If you’re wondering how many bikes someone like Alberto Contador has, the answer is “42 or 43” which he keeps in “a kind of museum”.
It’s sometimes tempting to think that pro cyclists have a similar relationship to bikes as many of us have to office stationery; that they’re a commodity so freely available as to be almost worthless.
Then again, what is a pro cyclist without a bike? Not a pro cyclist is the needless answer to that particular rhetorical question. The two must operate in unison for long hours of training and racing. They go through tough times together. If the material worth of a bike might seem irrelevant to a racer, the psychological value is, if anything, exaggerated.
“If you were to ask me about the jerseys, I’d have to look for them,” Contador told AS. “But I have hung on to the bikes, from the first one to the last one.”
The Spaniard makes the point that his early years helped him value what would come later.
“I began to watch cycling because my brother brought home videos of races. He lent me my first bike, a mountain bike. Later I inherited an old Orbea [which he says he still has].”
In Contador’s early days racing, high-end bikes didn’t materialise in quite the same was as they did later in his career.
“My team-mates had good bikes… And I remember betting on the football pools in the hope that I would win and be able to buy myself a good one. I spent a lot of afternoons listening to the matches and thinking about the bike.”
The interview also sees him discussing a couple of his rivals. He touches on the difficulties of racing in the same team as a returning Lance Armstrong – “Bruyneel had more of a relationship with him and for the team he was more profitable” – and also makes the somewhat jarring revelation that he and Chris Froome have on at least one occasion spent time in a bar together.