Lycra is an insidious fabric. It attracts ridicule to those who wear it - and most of us are cyclists. After one strenuous commute into work, it advertises its presence forcefully to the nostrils of passing colleagues.

When I first started cycling to the office, I swore I wouldn’t be seen dead in the unseemly, skin-tight black shorts, with their spongy inner nappy, so beloved of the two-wheeled fraternity.

I was happy to wear football shorts, trainers and cotton tee-shirts which would double in weight and be wringing with clammy sweat by the time I reached my destination. But if only I’d known it, I was at the top of a slippery slope.

Cycling magazines and a growing interest in the Tour de France were my downfall. Replica team jerseys crept into my wardrobe as I admired their garish colours and improbable names. The most unglamorous firms put sponsorship money behind cycling, in the hope that a rider wearing their brand will make it to the end of a Tour de France or Vuelta a Espana stage in front of the waiting media.

If you thought riders are suddenly struck with a chill before they cross the line, you’d be wrong. The reason they nearly always sit straight in the saddle and zip their jerseys fully up to the neck, is to ensure the team sponsor (who after all, pays their wages) gets maximum logo time with the cameras - just as the rider clinches the victory.

And of all the various insurance firms, flooring companies, chemists, hearing aid manufacturers and lotteries who’ve ever bankrolled pro-cycling, my favourite has to be the now defunct Fassa Bortolo.

I wear the Spanish squad’s natty blue and white kit frequently, praying for the day an inquisitive colleague asks what on earth the words mean - so that I can tell them that the firm makes and sells cement among other things. You can’t be less glam, or more surreal than that.


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