The Cycling Australia road service course centre in Italy has become the latest target of bicycle thieves in Italy with the national federation losing "significant" amounts of equipment ahead of the 2015 season.
Professional bicycle theft in Europe has become an unwanted feature on the cycling calendar with Team Sky, Europcar, RadioShack, Cannondale and the Russian national team all victims of theft in recent years. This week, thieves successfully broke into the Cycling Australia base in Varese as Cycling Australia's National Performance Director Kevin Tabotta explained to Cyclingnews.
"It's our road service course for our road programs which is located in Italy. They broke in and stole a vehicle, plus they had their own vehicle, and took quiet a significant amount of frames, complete bikes and componentry. Particularly 2015 componentry."
"Fortunately, one of the vehicles they stole that they used for the robbery was located by the police. Half of the stolen goods have been retrieved but we are still short of quiet a significant amount of stolen goods which at this stage haven't been retrieved."
Australian athletes competing at the London Track World Cup this weekend won't be affected as the centre contained only road equipment. While there was security befitting the contents of the centre, Tabotta added it was unlikely the thieves could have been easily stopped once they committed to their plan.
"No not all, we didn't have any warnings," he said. "We had some pretty significant security in place to precent this sort of thing happening. As you know, it's an issue in world cycling now, particularly around road teams, it's not an isolated incident. We had some good security measures in place but it's also true that if they want break in and they are really hell bent on thieving something, these guys are professional and know what they are doing."
"Now we have a process in place to see what's recoverable through insurances. Like all insurance matters, you have to firstly make the case then its takes some time to retrieve some, if any costs, and it depends how the insurance company wants to treat it but then it's also about time in refitting teams for 2015. That's what right now we are frantically working on to make sure that our teams are ready to go in February when they land in Italy and pick up their news bikes and begin the road seasons."
With the majority of the Australian athletes back in Australia for the off-season, the riders aren't immediately effected by the theft but Tabotta is doing is best to ensure everything will be in place for their return to Europe for bike and equipment fitting in February.
"We have some 2014 stuff here in Australia at the moment they are training on and that's up our sleeve to at least get started," Tabotta said. "We have at least a training bike under the athletes."
Help from Orica-GreenEdge
Additional help from Orica-GreenEdge's team manager Shayne Bannan has also much appreciated and given Tabotta confidence of a full recovery.
"We are pretty optimistic about what we can do and we are resourceful," he said. "We have some great people around us. Shayne Bannan from Orica-GreenEdge has been tremendous help and he is working for us over there to help us get started. Also the people from Shimano and Scott have been great asking 'what can we do to help?' so we'll work our way through it and be ready for February.
Reiterating that the theft was not an isolated incident, Tabotta isn't anticipating any knee-jerk reaction to move location of the service course but is expecting an investigation to ensure that a theft of this level won't occur again.
"At the moment, we are just looking at what the security measures were and whether we can scale them up another level again. We are looking at our options, whether its human resources security and ramping that up or hardware and alarming systems factored into the building, which we already have significant amounts of."
Tabotta added that the national body has been accumulating its equipment over the years in order to operate and don't have the luxury of sponsors regular providing the latest equipment. Compounding the loss the was the fact that Cycling Australia was in the middle of upgrading its drive trains but Tabotta is optimistic it's another hurdle that can be overcome.
"It's particularly difficult because we've also made the transition between 10 speed and 11 speed in 2015 having stayed the extra year on 10 speed that leaves us a little bit short in a couple of areas," he said. "Like I said, Shayne Bannan is really working hard with us to see what he can do and working with the sponsors with us as well so we are getting some really good help."