Young, gifted and credit blacklisted

In a series of pieces on life outside cycling, “Out of Competition”, here is another piece.

Once someone has started a career and its working out, many think about buying a house. But if this applies to normal folk, many pros can forget about this since their job is not normal, they will be refused a mortgage.

Why? Well in France there are basically two sorts of employment contract, the CDD and the CDI. Rather than leaving the employer and the employee to negotiate the contract, French law sets out almost all the terms.

The CDD means contrat de durée determiné or a “contract of fixed duration” and it’s the opposite of the CDI, which is for a durée indeterminé and is a permanent contract. I won’t go too far into the workings of the French jobs market but CDD workers are on a fixed term contract and those on a CDI are recruited on a permanent basis. It creates a two speed job market with some on insecure terms and others enjoying peace of mind and a near unsackable status. One consequence is that no CDD worker can get a mortgage, a mortgage is almost uniquely reserved for those on a CDI.

Now no pro is going to get a CDI contract, if they fail to delver results then they are out of the team: all riders are all on CDDs.

Only if you are on a CDD and want a mortgage, forget it, even if you are a household name. Depending on your point of view, it’s either a good or bad thing that French banks are restrictive with mortgage credit. But if you are a young pro wanting to buy a house then it’s probably a bad thing.

So what does the young pro do?

  • Win: upping your salary will allow you to buy a place for cash, even a half-decent rider with a couple of wins per year should be able to buy a modest house with cash after a few seasons.
  • Marry: a spouse with a CDI can apply for the mortage and your CDD salary can help the couple to borrow more if necessary.
  • Live at home with your parents.

This is part of a series on European life called “out of competition” where I try to show a few things that go beyond bike racing. For more items see the following:

Out of Competition
Part I: another other side to Belgium
Part II: Is Belgium splitting apart?
Part III: The Bike as a Way Out
Part IV: The Walloon Cockerel
Part V: Belgian Government Collapses
Part VI: Young, Gifted and Credit Blacklisted
Part VII: Belgian elections
Part VIII: The summer of Spain
Part IX: Preparing for the break-up of Belgium
Part X: Those flags you see in Italian races