UCI Annual Report and Accounts

“Don’t judge a book by its cover” goes the saying only the front of the UCI’s annual report and accounts for 2016 says plenty as features the men’s road race at the world championships in Doha, the concluding event of a very lucrative week for cycling’s governing body as the accounts show the Qataris paid far more than the usual amount to host the event.

The UCI’s annual report and accounts (PDF) came out on the eve of the Tour de France. The big race got the limelight, now it’s time to take a quick look at the sport’s governing body and its finances.

As a reminder the UCI is cycling’s governing body and it has eight primary activities road, track, mountain, BMX, para-cycling, cyclo-cross, indoor and trials… the last one being the test of balance rather than a proclivity to launch lawsuits. The UCI sets the rules for the sport but “governing body” implies a degree of authority it doesn’t always possess, especially in men’s road cycling as it has to juggle competing interests. All the numbers here are in Swiss Francs (CHF) because the governing body is based in Aigle, Switzerland – behind a retail park – and the exchange rate is mentioned below but for shorthand you can equate one Franc to one Euro or Dollar.

The three charts grabbed from the report illustrate the revenue by discipline, sector and type which gives a summary view of the sources of income and the changes between 2016 and 2015.

2016 was a great year financially for the UCI. Olympic years are lucrative because the Olympic Games generate payouts for the member bodies of the International Olympic Committee, including the UCI which oversees the road, track and mountain bike events. In the past the UCI has smoothed these payments across four years in their accounts, this time under new Swiss accounting rules they’ve recognised the full sum in one go. This means that the 2016 income statement shows the loot in full and the remaining years until Tokyo 2020 won’t have this. But the UCI promises to ring fence the money to spend over the four years. This helps explain how revenues have doubled in a year, here’s the table grabbed from the report:

Compared to 2015 you can see the big increase in the Olympic income for the accounting reasons explained above. The other big increase is the “hosting fees”. This means the World Championships. As loyal readers know every year the worlds are a vital income earner for the UCI and in particular the Road worlds. You might remember eyebrows being raised at Doha’s bid for the worlds in 2015 and talk that the Qataris paid a substantial premium for the privilege. The accounts appear to confirm this, there is no one figure but the sheikh-down is apparent in the accounts in more than one way. The first is the cold hard cash, the income from the road worlds in Doha generated almost 12 million Swiss Francs more in revenue than previous edition in Richmond, Virginia. That’s a lot but it’s revenue not profit, as the report notes “due to the relative lack of organisational resources locally, a significant part of the local organiser’s duties were contracted back to the UCI which in turn subcontracted to a third party” so rather than the Qataris fulfilling various duties the UCI billed them and paid others to do these things. This shows up in the accounts by an extra six million Francs of “logistics & event organisation”. Let’s hope the reports of 130 unpaid staff has been resolved.

Otherwise the lines are similar to the previous year so the summary story is a lot more revenue, some extra costs and this leads to a 21 million Franc surplus for the year. The UCI is a non-profit association under Swiss law and enjoys certain fiscal and legal advantages because of this, so the surplus is held in reserve for the following years.

The table above splits the revenue by activity and you can see how the road, essentially the world championships, and Olympics account for almost four fifths of the UCI’s income. Note the road “operating margin”, jargon for profit which is over 50%, a ratio the likes of ASO, RCS and Flanders Classics must crave.

Among the notes are various curiosities:

  • The anti-doping budget was CHF 1.237 million, up from CHF 1.074 million and as ever this is funded by the teams and races via a levy. Don’t confuse this with how much the sport as a whole spends on the endeavour as national agencies too
  • A “study to improve prize money distribution process” which cost CHF 139,000
  • The UCI holds CHF 96 million in bank guarantees from the pro teams in case they collapse leaving unpaid wages. It’s a worthy insurance policy but the sum shows just how much money teams have to stump up and leave idle with the UCI, a big demand on the budget for new teams
  • “The UCI is beneficiary of funds held by an Escrow Agent in the United Kingdom in lieu of a guarantee in respect of a future UCI Road World Championship” says a note. Can we assume this is a guarantee for a future world championships in the UK given the location? Maybe, maybe not.

UCI World Tour: The UCI gives accounts for it but the funding is controlled by a committee called the Professional Cycling Council which includes the UCI but also the teams, riders associations, race organisers and others. Here is the income statement for 2016:

Note the total revenues of CHF 3.25 million for the World Tour. As much as the World Tour is the big shop window for the sport, note the UCI took CHF 22.3 million in revenue from the road Worlds. So while you might find the worlds to be a one week oddity conducted in national kit late in the season, for the UCI it is their single biggest source of income and dwarfs the entire World Tour. By implication the road worlds generate a lot of money which is used to fund many other areas in the sport from underwriting loss-making branches of the sport to funding development such as the World Cycling Center, the UCI’s trainee scheme where it brings athletes from around the world to its HQ in Aigle to race, as well as other satellite offices around the world.

As you can see the teams pay in CHF 1.6 million in licence fees which works out at around CHF 90,000 per World Tour team, again this is revenue and off this comes the annual audit of team finances to make sure they’re fit for the World Tour. They also pay in extra money for anti-doping. Race organisers are paying more, presumably events on the expanded calendar paying in advance. There are new lines for “technical controls and race safety” and “UCI security and technical” totalling CHF 225,000. Only CHF 33,000 is spent on marketing which helps explain why the calendar feels like a jumbled mess rather than a coherent “product”.

Note there’s no separate account of the UCI Womens World Tour, the notes mentioned they are included among the “other governance” line on page 91 of the report which also lumps in scanning bikes for motors and validating equipment from manufacture. The UCI is investing in the women’s calendar and helping events and contributing to media costs but the sums involved are not big enough to merit a separate break-down yet.

The finances are signed off by Jeremy Conrad-Pickles, another Briton. It seems as if many of the top jobs in the UCI have gone to people of the same nationality as the President (Martin Gibbs, Justin Abbott, Mark Barfield are all Britons). That said the staff breakdown is included in the report, the UCI employs 115 people, up from 111 last year and a majority, 61 people, are Swiss.

Glance at the UCI report and 2016 looks like a jackpot. It was thanks to the Doha worlds where the Qataris appear to have paid in excess of the usual amount. It might have been a week of largely forgettable racing but it will lives on in the UCI accounts and can hopefully fund development of riders, the calendar and other worthy initiatives for years to come. But the decision to book all the Olympic money in one go flatters the accounts compared to previous editions, as does the Doha worlds 2017 won’t look as good but the UCI has signed new media and sponsorship contracts which will help.

Exchange rate on 31 December 2016 CHF 100 = US$98 = €93 = £80.

44 thoughts on “UCI Annual Report and Accounts”

  1. As much we as fans lament the Doha course for a world championship and the UCI making millions from it you raise a very good point. Maybe the UCI can use this oil money to benefit the sport we all love rather than being used by the Qataris to build another skyscraper. We shall see….

    • Exactly, the UCI made millions from it but it’s not like the staff are off to buy yachts and supercars, the money is supposed to go back into the sport. As you say, we’ll see. There are never that many bidders for the worlds but having two or three is enough.

      • Great insights – thank you. BTW is there any information on salaries in there? I did hear that Martin Gibbs awarded himself and Brian a 60% pay rise in 2016 – whilst pegging everyone else to 3%.. However, unlike the reduction from Pat McQs salary when Mr Cookson arrived, it wasn’t publicized.

  2. re: a future Worlds possibly taking place in the UK, I thought the 2019 Worlds were confirmed as taking place in Yorkshire last year?

      • The accounts suggest that other (“certain”) WC organisers give guarantees too, as the WT teams do, and the difference here is that funds have been placed in an escrow account instead of a guarantee being given.

      • It’s almost certainly for Yorkshire. The 2019 Worlds are being organised through a UK registered company called ‘Yorkshire 2019 Limited’, which is a subsidiary of UK Sport. The 2016/17 accounts for UK Sport were published a couple of weeks ago and on page 40 it says the following:

        “1.15 Restricted Cash Asset
        Yorkshire 2019 Limited has an asset of CHF 3.55m in an escrow account established and operated by Pinsent Masons LLP on behalf of Yorkshire 2019 Limited and the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI).

        This is in line with the agreement between the UCI and Yorkshire 2019 Limited to host the 2019 UCI Road World Championships.

        The cash held in the escrow account is subject to contractual restrictions…”

        Those accounts also contain a few other items of interest on Yorkshire such as these:

        “Yorkshire 2019 Limited was incorporated as a wholly-owned subsidiary of UK Sport on the 24 November 2016. The company was established to deliver the 2019 Road Cycling World Championships, using £9m of Central Government funding and a further £3m of Lottery funding provided by UK Sport”

        “The event will be funded principally through DCMS and UK Sport, with the balance coming from local authorities and commercial income. DCMS is channelling their funding through UK Sport, and will rely on UK Sport to provide assurance of that investment and of the event more generally. DCMS is also underwriting the event.

        The event entails significant delivery complexity for a single sport World Championships. The event also presents significant complexity in anticipating and managing the large number of spectators that may attend this free public event. For these reasons, it was agreed during the business planning and bidding phase that a special purpose vehicle (SPV) be established by UK Sport as the organisation to oversee the delivery of the event.

        Yorkshire 2019 Limited has a board of 12 directors, with seven of these independent (including the
        Chair) and five of these to be nominated by stakeholders. The five stakeholders with the right to
        nominate a director are British Cycling, DCMS, UK Sport, Welcome to Yorkshire and a Host Local
        Authority. The UK Sport Board will have a line of sight to Yorkshire 2019 Limited through an Assurance Group, chaired by the Major Events Panel Chair.”


  3. Even taking into account the exceptional year it seems that the UCI has the budget to do more: follow up the CIRC report with action, tidy up the world tour schedule and load, improve event safety… (and yes I know that the UCI are not often direct organisers)

    Interesting to compare with ASO who had a turnover (mostly from cycling) of 209M€ in 2015 with 47M€ net result, quite an operating margin, and one most businesses would crave for too.

      • Quite so, though as the parent group, Editions Philippe Amaury, has no shareholder outside the family they have no obligation except to report the legal minimum.

        And oh, Mr Ring, thanks for enriching, with Laurent Jalabert and Cédric Vasseur, my last three weeks. Life feels empty now.

        • My thanks to inrng as well, it was not only one of two occasions when the preview (+review) was far more interesting (+entertaining) than the stage itself.
          (As for the comment section, a Grand Tour always brings with it an increase of traffic and an influx of commentators whose “wisdom radiates in all directions” but one quickly learns the art of skimming through…)

          The best cure for post-Tour depression is to go out there and ride! The second best is to take time off cycling for a couple of days, come back and see what’s happening – and there’s already Clásica de San Sebastián today and Tour de Pologne and Peter Sagan’s moustasche and shaved head.

          PS “Significant complexity” is quite good, but “special purpose vehicle” is marvellous. Gotta love this investment jargon. I would somehow liked to picture a half-car, half-helicopter, equipped with the latest in surveillance camera, infrared, radar, signal intelligence, navigation and location, non-violent crowd control, command and control systems – and of course an espresso machine!

  4. Away from the finances, I notice that only 15 TUEs were granted in 2016 after only 13 in 2015 (for a pool of 1188 cyclists). Given the general hysteria about them and their alleged abuse in some quarters, the actual facts show it’s not a problem.

    • Just as the UCI doping control spending doesn’t equal the doping control budget the UCI TUE numbers don’t equal the actual total number once you include national agencies. The Novo Nordisk team alone would need more than 15 TUEs.

      • My reading of the UCI site about TUE’s agrees with Gauss. There is a rather long list of nations whose federations get their TUE’s automatically approved by UCI. These nations are all European except for US, AUS and South Africa; the 15 UCI TUE’s are presumably for riders from nations other than those, meaning mostly the former “eastern bloc” plus Colombia (if I reckon correctly). So the UCI number tells us little about whether TUE’s are being abused in general in the WT. It might be interesting to know how many TUE’s are being issued overall; it seems that for some time now the cutting edge of dopage may be a thyroid diagnosis, or a pressing need for an intensive course of corticosteroids. It’s hard to give credit to coaches or teams that exploit the TUE regime for competitive advantage, but they DO deserve credit for participating in the program and providing samples as required.

    • The question is not how many, but who uses it and SKY seems to be real Masters in the topic. Sir Wiggins, sir Froome and their supervisor sir Brailsford, all sincere guys, never TUEd until some Russian hackers revealed they did indeed.

      • You appear to have a somewhat selective memory; Froome’s second TUE, in 2014, was leaked by the French media at the time (Le Journal du Dimanche, I believe), and Froome in interviews stated it was the second of two he’d ever had. The Russian hacker leak later revealed that it was – the second of two he’d ever had. As he had said.

      • Wiggins is retired and Froome hasn’t had one for 3 years and NEVER in the Tour de France. These are the facts. Not sure on what basis you decide that Sky are the “masters” here. Given the tone of your comment I imagine its more prejudicial than factual.

  5. Training and development down from 4% to 2%, if anyone have time/knowledge to elaborate what that covers I would gladly appreciate it.
    Seems oddly low at least i percentage.
    Thanx for taking the time to go through this!

    Tonite kicks off another great race TCR5 – any post in mind on that one?

    • I would surmise that this relates to UCI staff – perhaps race judges and accountants etc – rather than wider costs of cycle training.

      Most National organisations will be responsible for training at a local level.

      I don’t think it is low at all. The UCI are unlikely to be big employers, relying on their National counterparts to do most things.

  6. Just FYI – Justin Abbot is a British (ex)investment banker and old school friend of Martin Gibbs (the man who actually does run the UCI – or at least tells Brian what to do). Surprised he turned up in the accounts, perhaps it’s the cost of having to put him up in The Montreux Palace hotel when he comes over to visit and ‘advise’ Martin..

    • +1. The split was beautiful. So Belgian, where the camera makes it look easy but for some invisible reason a couple of riders here and there just can’t quite re-close their tiny gap then boom suddenly there are groups chasing groups and panic panic panic.

  7. One thing that struck me was the relatively low, and in fact reduced year-on-year, cost of commissaires and officials.
    Given that the UCI is the body that oversees race regulation, both the low cost of its provision and the sum then levied as race fines, is a fraction of overall revenue.
    I’ve calculated that there was about 190 x race days on the mens / womens WT in 2016, which would cost the UCI on average about CHF 1300 per day for providing its regulation.

    It’s not a lot of money really – how many UCI officials would be on duty per race day?

    This is not a criticism of the officials at all, rather a point to show that the burdens of race control and any subsequent polemic that occurs after race incidents, is on the heads of these people.
    In light of this, the decision to exclude Sagan from the TdF, for instance, was extremely brave.

    • The fees paid to UCI commissaires are publically available on the UCI website.

      World Tour races – EUR160 per day
      Other International calendar races – EUR105 per day

      I can guarantee commissaires are not in the sport to make money out of it!

      By way of comparison English Premier league football referees are all employed on full time contracts which would work out more than 20 times higher per day if calculated on a games per year basis (and a football match is ‘only’ 90 minutes long).

  8. A little OT, but it’s about cycling’s accounts, someway.
    Just had a look at the final viewing figures for the TdF in Italy and Spain: it’s more or less the 2016 disaster all over again.
    Not much different from last year, indeed, but that means some daily 300 K down *each* when compared to previous seasons. And, having a look to middle term figures, it’s not about the presence or lack of national athletes.
    Once more, in both countries it’s been broken one of the golden rules of GT’s audience trend: audience normally grows steadily throughout the three weeks, peaking in the last mountain stages. 2017 wasn’t as bad as 2016 but it still was nearly 1 M down (in Italy) when top reach was concerned and the third week showed a significant lack of spectators when compared to the previous days.
    In France things were different: the third week was fine, and globally 300 K spectators per day were recovered when compared with 2016. But we’re still 200 K down from the 2015 level.
    The results are the worst of the last 5 years excluding the 2016 tragedy. They’re on the same level as 2014 if we speak of average viewers of the key part of the stage on France 2, but way less spectators are watching the longer broadcast on France 3. The only good news is the top viewing peak which was reached on the Galibier.
    2016 and 2017, compared to 2015, meant for the TdF losing nearly 1 M spectators for each stage in the three main cycling countries.
    Eurosport is up both in Italy and Spain but it doesn’t make, not even by far, for the audience loss.
    I’ve read enthusiast reports about TdF audience but they were referring to Eurosport (which tends to speak of “growth”, not of viewing figures: they just speak of their *European* total, which doesn’t reach 800 K). Others used share data to avoid focussing on audience.

    Note that the same decline is *not* happening in other GTs nor for one day races. It’s not like people are losing interest in watching cycling.
    I don’t know yet about other countries, but few or none have the impact on total figures which Italy, France and Spain can boast (Netherlands and Belgium got impressive share but lower total figures due to population. Germany, maybe?).
    Apparently, a good lot of cycling fans weren’t *that satisfied* for the show – and let me say once again that the course, which was raced just as it could be forecast beforehand, didn’t help.

    Yeah, but you know, those *old* countries are literally full of old grumpy people (and some old grumpy Larry T. from USA, too) who don’t really understand the magic of modern sport 😉

    • TDF is less and less intriguing and the reason behind it is ultradefensive catenaccio riding from SKY, killing any spectacle. Froome attacked twice(sic) druing 21 days of TDF. There were no other serious attacks at all! That’s amazing (in negative sense). It simply seems like TDF is too long (3 weeks) for such mediocre level of emotions. If not crashes there would be no drama, no anything. Take a look at Giros and Vueltas, Sky can’t control those races and there’s lots of action.

      • That will be why if you search back through the archive there are numerous “boring Giro” posts including several from Gabriele bemoaning the bad Giro course this year.

        I have no doubts should Chris Froome win La Vuelta this will also be bemoaned as the death of cycling too. Sour grapes.

        • Not necessarily (re the Vuelta). Sky wont send as strong a team and the nature of the course makes it harder to control anyway. Especially on the Angliru, its every man to himself and no amount of Kiryenka’s or whoever will be able to help if Froome has an unlikely bad day there. Also though plenty of people suspect Froome has tailored his preparation to peak later and carry form through the Vuelta (which I think is unlikely) but he has still done the Tour and carrying form for 9 weeks is a hard task. We might (emphasis on might) end up with a fading Froome fighting a fresh and feisty Nibali, a young up and coming Marc Soler and a surging Rohan Dennis. The time trial is right at the end when Froome could (emphasis on could) be on his knees. If Dennis is flying by that stage Froome might (emphasis on might) be in the unusual position of trying to limit his losses in a time trial. That’s the hope anyway and why I’ll be tuning in as I always do.

        • The Giro has indeed been the dullest since 2012 – yet, it was better than the Tour (IMHO). Both courses confirmed what I predicted beforehand.
          The Vuelta has been often bemoaned as generally poor cycling when Froome didn’t win it (that is, always until now). Even when this year Giro’s winner lost it and, say, Aru won it. Or Froome lost it and Quintana won it.
          Again, you’re writing nonsense.

          Those races had at least a couple of impressive stages each, but the rest was being chastised – by me, at least – for its repetitive structure and the insistence on monoclimbs which hugely limited the strategic factor, a key element in cycling as a sport. Note that in both cases it was precisely
          *this latter* factor which made a few stages way better.

          I think that Froome may win the Vuelta, but “all the same” let me add that this year’s course is a huge improvement when compared to previous editions.
          It’s still far from being as good as any Giro (including this last “easier” version), and it’s also worse than some recent Tours, in course terms (the 2016 TdF had a good course, as 2014 – 2015 only lacked some more ITT): all the same, I’d say that it corrected many of the “typical” Vuelta’s major flaws. Given the notable “risk” that Froome might win it, according to your *theory* I should be preparing the terrain writing that it’s a terrible course…

          Course problems typically generate mediocre racing, unless some miracle happens – and it didn’t, this year. Anyway, it doesn’t mean that a great course is bound to produce great racing.
          The good news is that the Vuelta offers the terrain for some quality racing: it’s to be seen if it’s going to happen, it depends on the field, the competitors, the teams…

          Froome won the 2016 TdF personally racing in a very interesting way, all in all probably better than in 2015, for sure he was the most interesting racer in the competition (unlike 2015), but the racing was very poor in general, despite a good course.
          Froome and Sky’s racing went again to a quite dull formula in 2017, probably the most conservative ever (Vuelta in their minds?), and the rivals tried a bit better than in 2016, but the course limited the available options and made the work easier for the Britons. Even if, frankly, the main question was Aru, Bardet and Urán not being strong, supported or creative enough. However, I said beforehand that on this course the team factor was going to be paramount, and I think that it proved to be true.

    • Gabriele the UK may not be a “main cycling country” but I believe ITV4, where the Tour is broadcast domestically, does get several million viewers. Of course, it does help that the UK usually wins.

      • ITV4 mostly got around 703k to 780k viewers for its evening highlights show this year. The top rated show seemed to be stage 12 (the Peyragudes finish) with 890k, the lowest rated stage 11 (another Kittel win, in Pau), with 650k.

      • RonDe, you’re a bit confused. Or confusing. You’re supposedly speaking of peak audience (“golden minute”), that is, the highest recorded number of viewers in the shorters span of time.
        Or, alternatively, you might be speaking of a single stage, even if it’s strange to me that you may say “several” meaning “two” (“three” at most).
        The only other option is that you’re speaking pure nonsense.

        Obviously, above I’m speaking of average viewing figures, all over every stage, and along the whole race.

        Let me give you an example of the shift in quantities involved. When Wiggins won the 2012 Tour got a 3.6 M “golden minute” viewers, corresponding to a 2 M average over the most watched stage: the average audience through the whole Tour was 705 K.

        That is, the single stage audience can be 2-3 times greater than the average I’m referring to above, and the “golden minute” can be even five time greater. In every country the “golden minute” is hugely superior to avg. viewers and, well, the most seen stage is bigger than the average.

        Let me detail for you some audience results in UK of the same kind (avg. viewers per stage) you may compare with the other countries: 434 K (2010), 563 K (2011), 705 K (2012), 606 K (2013), 625 K (2014), 687 K (2015), 698 K (2016). We’re still waiting for the 2017 data, but I doubt that they jumped to “several millions”.

        Get what I mean? The spectator *loss* in France, Spain and Italy from 2015 to 2016 or 2017 is per se greater than the *whole UK viewers market*. And it’s about *four times* greater than the audience increase produced in UK by the SKY effect.

        Anyway, thank you for confirming my theory about the UK cycling fans being convinced to be demographically far more relevant in the bigger picture than they actually are.
        The Netherlands, with their 17 M population, (not including Flanders, which as a *region* of Belgium nearly reach the whole UK results) are well above UK, even if in UK the figures are going slightly up and in the Netherlands audience results struggled in 2016.

  9. I wonder if Aus viewers might be up this year due to having the early part of the stages available (streamed, ad free, Aussie commentary, Porte, Matthews). It was great being able to get a couple of hours in at a reasonable time rather than either falling asleep or ending up a bleary eyed mess the next day. Albeit only the early part of the stages but there was some good watching (Sunweb, ag2r).

    Although I assume we make up very little of the audience either way.

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