There’s an impressive diversity of silverware and commemorative trophies awarded to the winners of bike races. Cadel Evans picked up what looks to be the largest item of the year. It’s a trident, the symbol of greco-roman sea gods and awarded to the winner of Tirren0-Adriatico, the “race of two seas”. It makes you wonder what he’ll do with it, indeed whether he managed to fit it in the team car.
Normally you get something more modest but still prestigious. Having won Milan-Sanremo, Matthew Goss gets something that fits more easily into the trophy cabinet and it’s ok, aesthetically. It’s not always so, Tour de France stage winners get a block of perspex which, for me, doesn’t quite capture the significance of their win, it’s a tribute to the sponsor, not the sport.
Indeed sometimes the trophy is pretty cheap. Win a smaller race and the shiny thing glinting in the flash photography during the podium ceremony can be made of plastic. Obviously nobody races for the trophy but it’s a way to remember the moment. Plastic or silver, gold or porcelain, the whole point here is really one of exclusivity, we’d all like to have a shelf racked with these things but only one rider goes home with the souvenir. And perhaps the most identifiable trophy in cycling is a block of stone mounted on a square piece of wood.
These trophies end up in all sorts of places. Whilst you might think “wow” and dream of displaying these things at home for all who visit, don’t forget the rider in question has probably been winning races since their mid-teens. Even your humble domestique was probably champion in the amateur ranks with many trophies to their name. As a result these things are almost an inconvenience. Some riders have fan clubs and other gladly unload these items on their local café.
Some riders do keep them at home. Romain Sicard stocks them in his bedroom. FDJ’s Thibaut Pinot does the same too, walls covered with leaders jerseys from the pro and amateur races alike. But many dump them out of sight, for example Bjarne Riis stocked his yellow jerseys in a cardboard box in his garage. After all, there comes a point where a couple of trophies are great but 200 of them accumulated during a career becomes a storage headache.