The vast majority of my cycling autographs were obtained through fellow collectors and dealers. The Merckx, Hinault, and De Vlaeminck gems came by way of the Horton Collection in California. The Coppi script was posted from an address in Milan, Italy. And I discovered my Simpson prize from a little-known place in Virginia. These signatures are historical by their very nature, in that many of them were originally penned in the 1940s, '50s, '60s, and beyond.
But, just recently, I had the opportunity to acquire a couple of "modern" items of biking memorabilia. History has its place, but I was pretty excited about this present-day proposal. Here's what transpired.
My good friend, Mark, got in touch and revealed that his 25-year-old daughter, Olivia, who happens to be a University of Maine graduate, works at the EF Education First headquarters in Boston. The bicycle connection? EF is the lead sponsor of a men's professional cycling team that competes within the UCI (Union Cycliste Internationale) WorldTour.
Olivia's duties at EF include being an event coordinator for company functions. With the EF team again participating in this year's Tour de France, one of the three Grand Tours, she was being sent to Paris to help throw a big party at the conclusion of the three-week stage race.
Anyway, having made my acquaintance during my time at the Brunswick newspaper — where Mark also works — and learning of my passion for riding a bike through her father, Olivia wondered if I desired any souvenirs that she could possibly procure during her quick visit to the French capital? Being in close proximity to a bunch of pro cyclists on the EF squad. I think you probably know I didn't have to be asked twice.
And boy, did she ever deliver. According to Mark, Olivia indicated it was a very festive celebration. During the gathering, she made a special effort to get me two items: an EF baseball-style team cap and a personally signed photo card of EF team member Magnus Cort, who finished in 96th place in this season's Tour.
Cort is from Denmark and is 30 years of age. Here's why I'm so pumped to have his autograph. Winning a stage in a Grand Tour is a major achievement, but capturing a stage in all three Grand Tours is quite rare, indeed. In fact, only 106 riders have ever accomplished this feat in their careers — and Magnus Cort is one of them. He has won six stages of the Vuelta a Espana, two stages from the Tour de France, and one stage in this year's Giro d'Italia.
Olivia's kind gesture was totally unexpected, which upon reflection shouldn't be surprising. As the saying "the apple never falls far from the tree" goes, Mark is one of the most good-hearted people I've ever known. I enjoy collecting the old stuff, but to possess something that came directly from the 2023 Tour de France is beyond cool. And for that, I would like to thank Olivia a thousand times. Stay safe!