In the past, riders who won the oldest bike race in the world, Milano-Torino, may have celebrated with a glass of wine at dinner that evening, or extra pudding. In 2022, the day after crossing the line first in Turin, Mark Cavendish announced a brand new NFT collaboration. I’m trying to imagine how you’d explain a non-fungible token to someone who watched the first edition of the one-day classic back in 1876.
Yep, that’s right, Mark Cavendish is the latest rider to get on the NFT bandwagon – at least – he would have been if he hadn’t already been the first rider to partner with an NFT project prior to the 2021 Tour de France, just when the boom was really kicking into gear.
The original collaboration was simply images of Cavendish’s various victories, styled like old-school virtual trading cards, whereas the latest foray into expensive jpegs is more in line with the cartoonish vibe of the popular Bored Ape Yacht Club NFT collection.
The new NFT sees Cavendish depicted as one of artist Edgar Plans’ ‘Lil’ Heroes’, wearing a green jersey with ‘Mark’ written on it, a Union Jack helmet, and blowing bubbles that then become tiny bikes (yep, you read that last part correctly).
While critics of NFTs will be quick to criticize Cavendish for partnering with a technology accused of being environmentally questionable, this project comes with the caveat that all proceeds from the sale of the NFT and a physical artwork will be donated to the Save The Children charity.
The Lil’ Heroes NFT collection is composed of 7,800 pieces of art, over half of which have sold at an average price of around $2,400. There are signs that the NFT bubble is close to bursting though, with the average price of an NFT falling by almost 50 per cent since the November peak, and daily trading volumes on the OpenSea marketplace are down 80 per cent after the record $248 million peak in February.
Cavendish has changed his Instagram profile image to the NFT, you can too if you right-click and hit save, and says he’s such a fan of Edgar Plans that he already owns both physical pieces and NFTs created by the artist.
“I have always admired this cyclist. And I am more than happy and grateful to Mark for joining this community,” Plans wrote on Instagram. “For me a hero who shows that with effort, passion and sacrifice dreams are achieved.”
Mark Cavendish: 2.
Eddy Merckx: 0.