On Friday night, thieves broke into the Hotel Classic car park of Reggio Emilia, where team Quick.Step-Innergetic was staying just before the Memorial Cimurri race. After forcing the lock, they stole 21 bikes, including the one used by Bettini last weekend when he won the men's elite road race at the UCI Road World Championships.
"This really saddens me," two-time World Champion Bettini said. "That bike had a particular significance for me. My mechanic left it exactly how it was after the World Championships with the number still attached to it. I know this is a long shot but I just hope someone will come forward with information leading to the return of my bike."
Only two of the team's bikes were not stolen: Andrea Tonti's spare bike that was in the boot of his own car and Paolo Bettini's brand new Specialized bike. "I decided to take my Specialized bike to my room last night," Bettini said, "as I wanted to get a better look at it as it is so beautiful."
All eight members of the Quick.Step team still took part in the Memorial Cimurri Saturday.
"This is force majeure," Team manager Patrick Lefevere said. "It is only right that we take part in the race. I'd like to thank the other teams that have lent us five of their spare bikes enabling us to take part today."
Even with his new bike, Bettini pulled out of the race after 100km and headed for home.