What was it that attracted a seven-year-old me to the Tour de France?
The bikes? The breath-taking scenery? The kisses from pretty French girls if you did well?
No, it was the lycra…
And one jersey in particular stood out from the peloton: the garish design of La Vie Claire team, based on Dutch painter Piet Mondrian’s Composition A.
The sight of the five-time winner Bernard Hinault, “The Badger”, storming over Alpine peaks in his red, yellow, white and blue ensemble captured the imagination of this inner-London child, bringing a dramatic and intoxicating new world to my consciousness.
Cheap replicas can be found easily enough but a Tour-worn, battle-hardened jersey of the great Hinault is my dream collectible.
A signed one I would frame and put on my wall.
Unsigned? Well, the temptation would be impossible to resist. The four-mile commute to the Paul Fraser Collectibles office would become my Tour de France, slip streaming behind flustered mothers on the school run, catching Belgian holiday-makers on tandems at the crest of the hill…
Signed cycling jerseys are a niche market but other signed items of sporting memorabilia can be big business – Paul Henderson’s game-worn ice hockey jersey from the 1972 Canada-Russia series sold for $1.2m in 2010.