A survey of nearly 100 riders has revealed more than half struggle to get by on the wages they're paid.
A survey of Belgian cyclists by the Sporta Union was sent out to riders spanning WorldTour down to Continental teams, with more than half saying they earn less than €4,000 a month gross.
A fifth earn less than €2,000 gross while 60 per cent of Continental riders surveyed earn between €1,000 and €2,000.
At WorldTour level, on the other hand, many of the riders who completed the questionnaire earn more than €10,000 a month.
"Of course, the riders from the highest category earn their living. But the difference with football remains large," Stijn Boeykens, secretary at Sporta, said of the findings of the survey.
"An average footballer earns €30,000 gross per month. "It is specific to cycling. Cycling is almost completely dependent on sponsorship. Moreover, those sponsors are usually not the large multinationals. And they usually also conclude a contract with a team for a limited time."
The survey showed that 88 per cent of the riders had a contract of barely one or two years, which Boeykens described as "remarkable".
The survey, which was viewed by Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad and commentator José De Cauwer, was then discussed on Belgium's Radio 1.
"These figures are partly due to the fact that Sporta has included the Continental teams, with (cyclocross) teams such as Telenet-Fidea and Pauwels Service," De Cauwer said, putting the findings into context. "There are many young people who want to push through to the top of cycling, and who are willing to pay a lot for it. Those teams obviously bring the average down."
In May earlier this year, the UCI announced women's WorldTour riders' salaries had increased, on average, by 25 per cent.
"The rise in UCI Women’s WorldTeams salaries and budgets shows that the reform of professional women’s road cycling, as set out in cycling’s Agenda 2022, is having a positive impact on women riders and their teams," said UCI president David Lappartient.
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