Welcome to Pro Cycling
Cycling has always been incredibly lucrative, especially Pro Cycling, and sponsors from around the world have stakes in teams, racers and individuals. With every stage won comes more glory for the riders and their teams. This has seen, for many years anyway, a rise in cyclists moving to mountainous regions of the world in order to train to their absolute best. Now it seems there is a new haven of sorts for cyclists to make their home base, in the shadow of the Pyrenees in Andorra.
When I heard about this, I did not really comprehend it at first either, listening to the commentary on the 2021 edition of the Tour de France. I heard about the growing population moving to Andorra and at first assumed this had to be because it is framed by Mountains and features hills all over the beautiful countryside. Then the reality dawned on me so I dug a little deeper. In the past riders at the top of the peaking order of Pro Cycling would usually have a summer house on the shores of the Marina in Monaco. While this may not be their actual address, it would likely be used to collect their winnings. This is because Monaco residents do not pay income tax, therefore any winnings the cyclists receive would be tax free. Monaco, however is becoming the playground for the richest people in the world and young Cyclists are being priced out, well welcome to Andorra.
An Andorran Welcome
What Monaco gives in tax breaks, Andorra can match as both do not charge income tax, however cost of living and housing in Andorra is significantly cheaper. Many riders when asked about this do not even hide the fact that is the reason they have moved there. You would expect some level of secrecy however most of the new residents talk freely about the fact they can earn more money by not contributing in anyway to the country they live in. Cycling has a hardcore fanbase, but no one is visiting Andorra to watch training rides while they can just wait for one of the many races in the packed cycling Calendar.
Cyclists are paid a contract fee by their team and also collect prize money for victories in different races. For example stage 17 of this years Tour de France netted the winner 11,000 Euros, with 2nd place collecting 5,500 Euros and 3rd coming in at 2,800 Euros. Now if we apply that to the summit finish today on stage 18, Tadej Pogacar will have collected 22,000 Euros for his pair of victories. If he were to live in a tax haven, Monaco for example, he would have earned more than most earn in a whole year of work and that is not taxed. Many Cyclists claim these moves benefit them because they do not have to worry about money in the future, which makes zero sense as most base contracts would give them a very healthy retirement, without the benefit of wins.
What then does this do for Andorra? Surely it will have a similar future to that of Monaco. Well, no probably not. You see Monaco is in the South of France, a place rich with beaches, sun, sea and rich people. Andorra is covered in hills, and while still Beautiful, only shares the tax-free money appeal of its much more popular neighbour. Andorra La Vella is also the most popular spot at the moment, and without an airport for 200 miles, people will not exactly flock here.
That seems to be the only complaint of the new residents of the country, which when you have all that extra money from your complete lack of contribution to the tax of a country, I am sure the hard done by Cyclists can find a way to afford that airport transfer. Monaco is no longer a place where residents can even dream of living and I feel like Andorra may go the same way. House prices will only rise, as will the cost of living, and the residents will be the ones to suffer. The problem is, as it goes with a lot of things, the rich dictate everything and while the Cyclists look to their worry free retirements, we watch another country become the high priced playground of the rich and famous.
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