A Tour de France yellow jersey purportedly signed by seven-time winner Lance Armstrong, who was stripped of those titles in 2012, went for a song when auctioned at Sotheby’s in London last week – but the Texan’s reaction to the news was priceless.
The jersey was included in a sale of sporting memorabilia held at the Sotheby's New Bond Street shwroom on Monday 26 October by sports specialists Graham Budd Auctions.
The auction catalogue description read: “A Lance Armstrong signed 2004 Tour De France yellow jersey, signature in black marker pen, United States Postal Services and other logos; sold together with a Lance Armstrong competitor's sticky-back patch, numbered 1, sponsor Konica Minolta.”
Felix Lowe, who blogs for Eurosport under the name Blazing Saddles, had tweeted a few days beforehand that the item was for sale. You can hear the bidding in the video below.
— Uniquely Sporting (@UniquelySport) October 28, 2015
Armstrong, mentioned in that tweet, came back with a rather surprising reply on learning it had gone for just £150, however.
— Lance Armstrong (@lancearmstrong) October 28, 2015
Genuine signature or not, however, as Lowe pointed out, that puts the combined value of the seven framed yellow jerseys that famously adorned the mancave at Armstrong’s former home in Austin, Texas, at somewhere around the £1,000 mark – although as the experts on Antiques Roadshow are fond of pointing out, you always get more for a full set.
It’s a far cry from the $1.3 million raised at Sotheby’s in New York in 2009 for Livestrong, the charity Armstrong founded while battling cancer.
That auction, however, featured one-off bikes ridden by Armstrong in his comeback season at Atsana, with the finish designed by leading artists including Damien Hirst.
With Armstrong spending 83 days in the yellow jersey between 1999 and 2005, however, the one sold this week is far from unique.
Besides the podium presentation jersey (with the zip at the back), there’s the jersey worn while racing, and then any number of replica jerseys organisers may ask the wearer to sign as he steps off the podium.
Given the auction catalogue didn’t specify this jersey as race-worn, we’d say it’s one of the latter, of which there may be hundreds of examples around.
Actually, £150 may be a decent deal for the seller, all things considered.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.