Team Sky has confirmed that it will be able to take part in the Tour du Haut-Var in spite of having 16 bikes stolen from a support vehicle parked outside the team hotel in Trans-en-Provence on the eve of the race.
When Sky mechanics awoke on Saturday morning, they discovered that thieves had broken into the support vehicle and stolen 16 bikes as well as training wheels and other equipment.
However, the team was able to source bikes from its training base in nearby Nice, and announced that seven of its eight riders will be racing on team-issue Pinarello bikes. An additional bike has been borrowed from the Bretagne-Séché team, which was sharing the same hotel as Sky.
“The thieves took all the bikes, bar two, and we presume they only left those because they’d run out of space in whatever transport they were using. They also took some of the spare training wheels, and various bits of other equipment,” race coach Shaun Stephens told the Team Sky website.
“We’re still able to take part in the race though and seven of our eight riders will be riding team-issue Pinarellos. The two that were left in the van are going to be used and we managed to source five others from our training house in Nice, which is about an hour away from where we’re staying. Fortunately the show goes on.”
Stephens paid tribute to the Bretagne-Séche team for offering its help, and explained that neo-professional Sebastian Henao – the younger brother of Sergio – will ride a loaned Kemo bike on Saturday’s opening stage to La Croix Valmer.
“That was a really nice gesture from them and we appreciate it a lot. Things like that really show the spirit of cycling and we can’t thank them enough,” Stephens said.
“Our climber Sebastian is going to be riding on that one today because it’s a sprint stage and we’ve had to work with what sizes are available, and then CJ [Sutton] is probably going to ride it tomorrow. CJ will ride my bike today and then swap it with Sebastian.”
The incident is just the latest in a spate of such robberies that have struck the peloton in recent seasons. Last week, it was reported that bikes and equipment valued at €100,000 were stolen from Cannondale's service course in Sesto al Reghena, near Pordenone.
Last year, Team Europcar had its bikes stolen at the EuroMétropole Tour, Garmin-Sharp had bikes stolen at the Tour of the Mediterranean, while RadioShack-Trek lost eight bikes at the Three Days of West Flanders. Thieves also struck the Danish and Russian teams at the world championships in Florence last September.
“Racing so close to Nice, it's almost the best of a bad situation, because if it had been anywhere else in the world we’d have been in real trouble and probably not been able to take part,” Stephens said. “Fortunately we had a lot of spare equipment there so we should be OK to continue without the need for any further replacements.”
Sky has a youthful squad in action at the Tour du Haut-Var, with youngsters Ian Boswell, Josh Edmondson, Salvatore Puccio and Sebastian Henao lining up with Christian Knees, Gabriel Rasch and Chris Sutton.