It would have been like looking in a mirror - a mirror integrated into Paul James' left thigh - when Mark Cavendish FaceTimed the man who'd got the sprinter tattooed on himself.
James, a personal trainer who lives in Jersey, had said to a couple of friends when Cavendish re-signed for Deceuninck - Quick-Step that if the sprinter returned to winning ways after a few years without a victory he would get a tattoo to honour Cavendish's comeback this 2021 season.
Earlier this month James finally had his appointment at the tattoo parlour booked and proudly showed off his new piece afterwards on Twitter. And such was the subsequent social media buzz that Cavendish's wife Peta caught wind of it and put James in touch with the man himself.
"I was actually at the cinema when my phone started vibrating and it said it was a FaceTime, I ran to the foyer area but missed the call, so I phoned straight back and there was Cav sitting there, I just couldn’t believe it," James told Cycling Weekly.
"I remember saying at the start of the conversation that I thought this call was going to go one of two ways - it was either gonna be positive or I was going to get a restraining order, and then Cav was positive and said he liked the tattoo.
"His words were, 'hiya mate, how you doing?' Then he asked 'what have you done?' and was laughing. So I just explained the situation about if he won I’d get a tattoo and I said that a part of me kind of hoped to get it because I believed in Cav so much and I never stopped believing in him.
"I said how much he got me into cycling and how influenced me and my love of the sport. He said he was really humbled and it’s such a nice thing to hear me say, he liked the tattoo as well. We just talked about cycling for a few minutes. He then said he was going to send me stuff over as a gift for dedication and going through with the tattoo, so I’ve got that to look forward to.
"I’m still in shock about it, to be honest. Seeing your hero on FaceTime just isn’t the norm really is it."
Now it's time for someone to step up and promise to get a full-body Chris Froome tattoo if the four-time Tour de France winner manages to claim a fifth title.
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Hi. I'm Cycling Weekly's Weekend Editor. I like writing offbeat features and eating too much bread when working out on the road at bike races.
Before joining Cycling Weekly I worked at The Tab and I've also written for Vice, Time Out, and worked freelance for The Telegraph (I know, but I needed the money at the time so let me live).
I also worked for ITV Cycling between 2011-2018 on their Tour de France and Vuelta a España coverage. Sometimes I'd be helping the producers make the programme and other times I'd be getting the lunches. Just in case you were wondering - Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen had the same ham sandwich every day, it was great.
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