In a cycling equivalent of someone turning up at Antiques Roadshow with a vase they bought for a few quid at a car boot sale that the expert reveals to be worth thousands, a man in Kentucky bought a bicycle for $5 at a yard sale that turned out to be an $8,000 custom built mountain bike first ridden by none other than Floyd Landis.
Provenance, as they say, is everything. Landis rode the bike to second place in the 2007 Leadville 100 mountain bike race, the year after he won the Tour de France only to be stripped of the title after testing positive for excessive levels of testosterone.
Greg Estes of Owenton, Kentucky, bought the bike at a 127 yard sale, described as the “world’s largest” which each August extends along the Highway 127 corridor for hundreds of miles, this year passing through six states.
The four day event sees thousands of locals and visitors alike seeking to snap up bargains and also sell their own unwanted goods.
Mr Estes had an idea that the bike, which had two flat tyres and what appeared to him to be broken pedals, was worth a lot more than the asking price, telling the Owenton News-Herald: “I thought I could put it back in my sale and maybe get a couple hundred out of it.”
He found out that far from being broken, the pedals were a $500 custom pair, and carried out some more research on his purchase.
“It turns out the bike was custom-built by Cyco-Path Bikes in California for Floyd Landis,” Mr Estes said, with the newspaper report adding, in a brief and rather charming but not exactly accurate aside, “Landis is an American cyclist who has won many bike races, including the prestigious Tour de France.”
Mr Estes now has a picture of the bike being ridden by Landis during the Leadville 100, and said: “After I did the research, I took it to a couple of bike shops. One guy told me I could put it on eBay and get $4,000 for it in minutes.”
Told that the bike retails for $8,000, Estes stuck it in his own 127 yard sale for $6,000, together with the picture of Landis riding it, as much as a talking point as anything else.
“More or less I put it in my sale for a conversation piece,” he said. “I couldn’t tell you how many people walked by and wanted to know why I had $6,000 on a bicycle.”
According to Estes, a state worker found the bike on the interstate and there is no indication of it having been reported lost or stolen.
“They said right now the bike is mine,” he explained. “But if it turns out that it was stolen, I won’t have any problem returning it to its rightful owner.”
Last year's Leadville 100 winner, coincidentally, was Landis's arch-nemesis Lance Armstrong, who earlier this week announced that he would not be defending his title this weekend, citing a hip injury and a visit from his daughter as reasons for his absence.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.