Ineos Team Budget

The accounts for the Ineos Grenadiers team have been published, the chance to look at the budget for a World Tour team. Having rounded up the accounts of several other World Tour teams there’s also a quick but incomplete comparison.

€50.1 million was the budget for the year ending December 2020, as the cropped screengrab from the latest set of accounts from Tour Racing Limited shows. It’s down by €678k on 2019, the first time the team budget has fallen.

Given Covid-19, the shrunken calendar, reduced travel and cancelled training camps you’d expect expenditure to have fallen in this exceptional season; the surprise is it didn’t fall more. Other teams had to slash budgets, some slashed rider wages. They made two big signings in Richard Carapaz and Rohan Dennis; out went Wout Poels.

2020 was still a mixed season for Ineos, the first year since 2014 when they didn’t win the Tour de France, even if apparently Michał Kwiatkowski and Richard Carapaz’s shared stage victory generated a lot of valuable publicity. But they got the Giro with Tao Geoghegan Hart and Filippo Ganna’s world championship win was largely an Ineos project.

This note from the account shows where the budget comes from, sponsorship as in cash received from Ineos, but also from other sponsors like Pinarello, Castelli and others who pay to associate with the team and to supply them. There is also “value in kind” which is accounting jargon for goods give instead of cash. In the Team Sky days the accounts broke down this revenue into more sources. Teams do get income from other sources such as expenses from race organisers, prize money and appearance money payments for any star riders are often handled via the team and presumably this is shoved into the “sponsorship revenue line”.

Otherwise there’s not much else to note from the accounts. The notes show the team had 39 employees and a wage bill of €3.7 million but this is for staff rather than riders, who are instead hired as contractors selling their service, rather than employed in the traditional sense. Cycling teams have few assets, there’s little point owning property or financial assets and so the balance sheet is usually not much interest; the accounts show they took on some new leases for property and vehicles and that’s about as big as it gets. It’s a rare look into the budget of a team but there’s not much beyond the top line number.

For comparison here are the top line budgets from other audited World Tour team accounts from the year ending 2019, plus Cofidis. It’s only a selection but the French and Belgian squads do file accounts, while others are not public; often numbers that do the rounds on other websites are wrong because the numbers for the teams that do publish accounts are wrong which suggests the figures for teams that don’t must be mistaken too. Still the likes of UAE, Jumbo-Visma and Bahrain should be more than €20 million. Also headline comparisons are just that, there’s nuance when comparing international businesses with tax a big one: put simply a Euro spent in France doesn’t go as far.

Ineos has had the biggest budget in the World Tour for many years and by a long way but right now we’re seeing the proof that money can’t buy success. Budget correlates strongly with performance but it doesn’t guarantee it and Ineos may be the strongest team in stage races across the season but they don’t have the best rider for the Tour. UAE have Tadej Pogačar under a long term contract and have signed Spanish teenager Juan Ayuso on a similar deal too. Sky/Ineos tried to sign Remco Evenepoel but he is linked to Quickstep for years to come. 18 year old Marco Brenner has a four deal at DSM. Bora-Hansgrohe are planning something similar with the Belgian junior Cian Uijtdebroeks. Mining the Under-19 ranks can deliver but not all diamond juniors turn out to become flawless pros, some riders can be physically mature for their age and don’t progress; for others the mental side is difficult, the job doesn’t turn out to be what they hoped for. So it can be an expensive option on future talent, spending millions to gradually bring a rider on who may not make it and if they do reach their peak… a team like Ineos can wait for the five year deal to expire and sign them they’re at the ripe old age of 23. Besides Ineos already have Tom Pidcock and also Carlos Rodriguez and both are being given plenty of leeway and time, Pidcock is racing offroad while Rodriguez is combining racing with studying at university.

Pogačar and Egan Bernal are likely to race the Vuelta together but it’s next year’s Tour that looks like the big contest and UAE will want to strengthen their squad for next year, they’ve managed this year but just and had to pull Brandon McNulty from the Giro. It did seem João Almeida was going to Bora-Hansgrohe but maybe it’s UAE now. For all Ineos’s struggles in this Tour, they’ve won the Catalunya, Romandie, Dauphiné, Suisse and of course the Giro but they’ll be looking at their squad, they used to unload older riders, now a third of the team is over 30 and there’s a rebuilding project for the medium term here too.

Lastly budget isn’t just for recruiting talent, retention matters. On other teams a rider might be tempted to play their own cards mid-race in the hope they can raise their market value and get a bigger contract elsewhere. A well-funded squad like Ineos can offer bigger contracts than they’d get elsewhere to start with and this buys loyalty and reliability and helps explains why some riders are happy to be workers here rather than lead another squad.

  • Ineos accounts via
  • Exchange rates at 31 December 2020: €1 EUR = GB£ 0.89 = US$1.22

28 thoughts on “Ineos Team Budget”

  1. Interesting stuff, thanks for posting it. Gotta wonder what the UAE budget is currently? And how much more it’ll be for 2022? Have you data to show (what I think) is the massive increase in spending by Sir Dave’s team since they began? 50 f__king million euros now? For that they got a Giro win in the past two that enough? Ganna IMHO is as much or more a product of the Italian national team operation than INEOS, one of their increasingly rare success stories.
    It will be interesting to see how UAE develops as they add more and more big-name, expensive riders ala SKYNEOS. Will it be King Pogacar with others only in supporting roles or will they let someone else try to win a GT? Meanwhile, how long with the fracking king keep shoveling money into Sir Dave’s coffers if his team doesn’t dominate Le Beeg Shew anymore?

    • i don’t think comparing ineos to sky c. 2013-2018 is the right comparison, maybe c. 2009-2012 where they built the team that dominated. i get the sense they’re working out how to get bernal and carapaz into the wiggins-froome-thomas style of leadership and refined talent. additionally, cycling in new lieutenant stype talent as the old guard nears retirement is tricky business.

      i get the feeling ineos is in the transition and will probably be hitting pretty hard in 2022 or 2023.

    • “Have you data to show (what I think) is the massive increase in spending by Sir Dave’s team since they began?” – Forgive me if INRNG has updated post your comment, but isn’t that what the first bar chart shows?

    • I think it’s being or been looked at, someone connected once mentioned this but the social media post vanished, it shouldn’t have been leaked. But if it is happening it’ll be announced well ahead, it’ll take time to build up.

      But not all teams have to do this, it’s good to have some original women’s teams rather than cloned men’s squads. It also depends on what the sponsor wants, demographics, eg a good choice for Dutch supermarket; but maybe not what a petrochemicals billionaire wants.

      • I don’t doubt that is was thoroughly planned, but from the outside, it felt like the Jumbo women’s team was set up in about 5 seconds – and that we knew of Vos joining 5 seconds later! It felt like the equivalent of a producer yelling ‘get Spielberg on the phone’ at Sundance.

        Depending on how you want to drive up hype, maybe drip-feeding info to keep the story alive could be a good thing PR-wise?

        It also feels like big teams get criticized quite a bit for not having a women’s team or giving money to women’s cycling. I don’t know if the objective would be the extra publicity from women’s sport (not many races, even fewer headlines) or rather to appear progressive and generous to (mens) cycling fans and hope people have an easier time forgetting about the fracking chemicals.

    • I agree Anonymous, they can probably just look under the seat cushions and in the team cars and motorcoaches and find enough pounds and Euros to fund a decent womens WT team!

  2. “Often numbers that do the rounds on other websites are wrong because the numbers for the teams that do publish accounts are wrong”

    Are the various rider salary figures making the rounds generally accurate? E.g.:

    “…some riders are happy to be workers here rather than lead another squad.” 2.5M can bring a lot of happiness. C.f. Kwiato, who must be happier with 2.5M than potentially dozens more pro wins elsewhere.

    • Salary numbers are not published of course, so they’re even more hard to know and this same list seems to float around all sorts of websites, it gets copy-pasted and we can’t work out the source. Then there’s salary and often image rights, bonuses, it’s more complicated than one number. But I’m pretty sure one headline number is wrong so some of the numbers must be ballpark guesses.

  3. I realise its missing all the squads backed by Middle Eastern Oil states but the gap in that bar graph is shocking.

    I hereby start the pointless and ill informed speculation that Cav, for all his fulsome praise of Quick Step this year, will be off back to INEOS for one last big payday next year, and INEOS/Rawlings will willingly pay it for the kudos of setting a British record for TDF wins. Because lets face it not even a fit Bernal will be a match for Pog in next years TDF, and all the Dauphines, P-Ns and Romandies in the world do not float the boat for a billionaire sugar daddy.

    • The budget gap is odd, what exactly is expected in return for such generosity I wonder? Maybe Froome’s dominance led the new owner to think that Grand Tour wins were directly correlated with cash.
      I would say it’s good that at the end of day they have the money to invest in the wellbeing of their staff, but if much of the outlay is to consultancies/agencies it’s difficult to conclude that they are doing that.

      • The team sponsorship is, in effect, marketing expenditure from the parent company.
        Ineos is apparently made of “around 20 separate business holdings “, I wonder if each contributes a portion to the cycling team?
        The UAE team reported in December 2019 that its cycling team generated over $400m worth of marketing value for less than a 20th of the cost. Since then, they’ve had the Tour win in 2020 and are on the cusp of a second victory.
        Whilst the success of the riders obviously affects the marketing return that the team generates, the entire venture is a very cost-effective means of marketing expenditure for Ineos.
        “Sports washing” as some may say in Ineos’ case.

    • Cavendish could also decide to retire on a career-high, in green on the podium of the Champs-Elysees after his 35th+ stage win after a comeback nobody expected…

  4. On the financial subject, just saw that Cycling Tips sold out to the ravenous OUTSIDE conglomerate, make sure you get a good price out of these plutocrats when they come for INNER RING !
    I have a cycle tour company they could buy, but I really don’t need the money badly enough to see it gobbled up along with Velonews, Peloton and the rest. It’s gonna be like Coke, Fanta or Dasani…if you’re into cycling they’re gonna get your money (or whatever) any way you look at it.

    • I don’t know if this qualifies as selling out Larry – not sure exactly, but I doubt anyone made enough on this purchase to sail away into the sunset on a 90-foot yacht being served caviar from a band of adoring groupies.

      As Inrng can undoubtedly relate, the market for online cycling news outlets is hardly a booming trade. Let’s be happy for Wade and the group over there – although I think Wade sold his stake previously.

    • Lol – sorry, I also just saw your comment about Coke/Fanta/Dasani – not exactly an apples-apples comparison. These are billion dollar brands… CyclingTips’ purchase is a tiny fraction of that.

      • I actually sent congratulations to Wade on this, but IMHO Pinarello sold-out to some petro-sheiks, same for Colnago and most recently Columbus/Cinelli while OUTSIDE gobbles up the cycling enthusiast press at a rapid rate. As to “sell-out” I find it interesting that CT and VN have recently had “tin-cups” out there begging readers to fund their operations with promises of how great it all will be if the readers pony up the loot…now they’ve cashed in it seems.
        I can’t see it as anything but a loss for the readers as it’s hard not to see consolidation on the horizon OR you get the Coke, Fanta, Dasani equivalent – the label might be different but the same people get the money no matter which one you choose. I wouldn’t hold it against Mr Inner Ring if he cashed-in/sold-out since I suggested it 🙂

        • Whoa! Steady there. We need to see the small print about the UGC buy-out terms before we get all keen on this. Who knows, we could all be expert commentators about some other subject entirely if the right offer was made.

    • CT merged with BikeExchange in December 2015, and was then sold to Pinkbike in March 2019. Not really certain if Wade had any part in the sale to Outside.

      • Geez, it’s worse than I thought! Whoever they are I hope the guys who put the work/equity in them in the beginning at least get a nice paycheck from the sell-out/cash-in because I don’t see the plutocrat/oligarchs at OUTSIDE doing anything but “consolidation” which IMHO means taking a big swing of the axe at a lot of jobs. Wonder what the guys who fled VN to CT when it was gobbled up feel like now that the monster’s come for their new jobs too? Is CyclingNews next or does OUTSIDE already own that too?

        • Cyclingnews belongs to a UK company called Future. It’s interesting as Future used to be magazines and then websites and it still does this but it’s increasingly moving into a consumer direction, it bought a price comparison company recently. It’s why the CN pieces often have affiliated links and articles about “Amazon Prime Day” and “Black Friday Deals” etc and if there’s an article about a rider or team there are links to buy the bike, kit or something related.

          As for Outside buying Velonews and Cycling Tips it’s interesting to note that Specialized, via its investment arm, now owns a slice of these sites, it has invested in Zwift too.

  5. Given how punishing it is in France to have highly paid staff with high tax rate plus effective payroll tax i wonder how french teams can compete. Do they register the teams in another country or somehow have the riders register in another country to escape it.
    If they do pay full tax rates then i solute them for the success they manage because it must be difficult to afford many high paid riders. It must make it difficult to have a good back office setup with the budget so stretched.

    • It’s pretty much the full rate for the French teams, there’s none of the foreign registration. Teams do shop around jurisdictions, for example Astana is mean to be Kazakh but run out of Luxembourg which is no advert for trying to run a business in Kazakhstan. Quickstep is a Belgian team and I’ve got their Belgian accounts for the numbers above, but run through a Luxembourg office because they can, while rivas Lotto-Soudal can’t because they’re sponsored by their national lottery and so have to be 100% Belgian.

      • With the French effective payroll tax, do they only apply to riders based in France riding for a French team? Say Pinot riding for FDJ?

        Or do they apply to not France domicile riders riding for a French team as well? Say GVA riding for AG2R?

        If the latter does not apply, would that explain French team’s enthusiasm for foreign riders?

        • Normally it applies to all, so same for Cosnefroy or GVA, Gaudu or Küng.

          It is expensive but it is stable. French could rely on the money paid into the system to keep paying riders last year and the top teams today have been going for a quarter of a century.

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