source Last years winning podium showing the various jerseys on offer. Polka Dot is the king of the mountains,The green is the sprinter and the yellow is the overall winner.
Every year it seems to go up as the popularity of this event increases around the world.Unlike other sports though the winner would have earned it the hard way. Compared to football this is a tough way to earn your living as a professional athlete. The total prize pool is only 2.3 Million Euros and when you look at how many competitors there are it isn't a big sum of money. 22 teams each with 8 riders and realistically there are only a few that have the expertise and skills required to win this race. It is held over 3 weeks testing everyone from time trialing to climbing massive mountain passes and it will find any weakness one may have. source As you can see the winner gets the lions share and it trails off fairly quickly once you hit third position.
The winner will walk away with 500 000 Euros for 3 weeks in the saddle and would have covered in excess of 3480 Kilometers. The winner of the yellow jersey hands over the prize money to his team and doesn't get to keep it. This is the tradition and prestige that goes along with winning this jersey. This is a team sport and without your team you are nobody. A yellow jersey holder will have all the fame and glory, but it is down to what the team sacrificed along the way to make it happen. This is why Lance Armstrong had such a loyal team under him as they knew the chance of a decent payday was more likely than other teams. The bonuses and spin offs for winning the yellow jersey far outweigh the prize money.
The other classifications also carry financial rewards, but not quite the same. They each have prestige and meaning to whoever wins each jersey.The green jersey winner or the leader in the sprint category will win 25 000 Euros ,the same amount for the king of the mountains jersey. The top young rider under 23 years of age will win 20 000 Euros. The top team will win 50 000 euros. The margins between winning the yellow jersey and overall race win are huge compared to what is on offer.
Each stage winner will receive 11 000 euros and this is thrown into the teams pot to be shared out at the end. There is 28 650 Euros up for grabs each day in financial rewards excluding the sprint sections where bonuses are handed out. Competing this race is an accomplishment in itself and there are really only a handful of riders capable of winning this race.
The race is steeped in tradition and there are unwritten rules that all the riders know. Some have tried to shun these in the past only to find the entire peleton shun them for their actions. There have been occasions when the holder of the yellow jersey has gone down in a crash and the entire race was paused and only one rider tried to take advantage and was pulled back by his team mates and other riders. You win the right to wear the jersey being fair and square. Sounds crazy when someone like Armstrong wasn't exactly fair in his scientific approach to cycling, but there are rules or a code they all abide by. I think this is one of the parts of the Tour that make it so unique and interesting.