The partners of professional cyclists are long-suffering domestiques we often don’t see.
They wash dirty kit, put up with blurry Skype conversations, and, in some cases, look after the children or act as an airport taxi service.
They sometimes wait weeks at a time to see their other halves. And when he gets home, all he usually wants to do is rest and recover, while bringing a smoother pair of legs to the bed.
Yes, it can be easy to forget that a selfless and saintly other half is behind most top cyclists is a selfless and saintly other half.
So, Cycling Weekly asked the Tour of Oman peloton if they had done anything special, from afar, for their partners on Valentine’s Day.
Johan Van Summeren (Garmin-Barracuda)
I gave my fiancee a call this morning, I was just lying in bed. ‘Oh, you remembered it!’ [in girly falsetto], she said.
Yeah: I remembered it because I was listening to Belgian radio this morning, and they told me what day it was!
Proposing after Paris-Roubaix? We were talking about it a lot before, but not then, nobody knew, even me, that I’d win that race.
I thought I’d ask her on holiday or something, but it was never my plan to share it with the rest of the world. At least the mud and snot was already wiped off. We’re getting married in October.
Mark Cavendish (Team Sky)
No, I don’t think you should have a day to tell you someone you love them, that’s just my opinion.
I love my girlfriend unconditionally, every single minute of every day. She’s given me a card; so maybe, I don’t know, we’ll see what she wants [jokingly].
Greg Henderson (Lotto-Belisol)
My wife and my daughter arrived in Spain yesterday. I’ve organised for flowers to get there today: one for my girl Charlie, and half a dozen for my wife.
Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Barracuda)
I had flowers delivered a few days ago, I ordered it online. You’ve got to stay in the good books! I’ll be 28 this year, we’ve been together for eleven years.
I’m never home for Valentine’s Day: since I turned professional, the last time I was actually home was 2006 when I had visa problems with Cofidis, and I had to go back to the US! That’s the only reason I was there.
It’s the reality of being a professional cyclist. I don’t think it’s always easy being a professional cyclist’s significant other… we are on the road a lot.
Ian Stannard (Team Sky)
No, I haven’t done anything for it. What am I supposed to do when I’m out here? Sending things isn’t the same, is it? I’m not a very romantic person. My girlfriend won’t mind, she expects it.
Gert Steegmans (Omega Pharma-Quick Step)
I’ve sent a box of flowers to her, I hope she’s already received it. I even said for the delivery guy not to arrive too early, because the baby is sleeping.
I planned it a little bit. But other years, she always did something special: every time I’d get back to the hotel, there’d be wine, chocolates, things like that. I don’t know how she did it.
One year, I was free [ie. not racing]. So I booked a weekend in a chateau in France. Then, the team said ‘oh sorry, now you have to go to Ruta del Sol’. I had to cancel it.
Marriage? Not now, not yet. Maybe marry in the summer. The baby has to be bigger. That’s a good reason [to not do it].
She used to be a model for wedding magazines, I think she’s worn 300 or 400 different wedding dresses already. I think she knows the one.
Hey, Tom! [asks Boonen]
Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-Quick Step)
Yeah? Huh? Valentine’s Day? Oh f**k! [in mock horror]