The team’s staff discovered the theft on Saturday morning as they went to the team’s truck to prepare the race bikes. Thieves smashed the window of the team car that had been used to block the back door of the mechanics truck, rolled it back and then broke into the truck. The panel van was forced open as was a luggage door on the team bus, and the team estimated a loss of equipment worth 500,000 euros.
The team is helping Italian police with their investigations and scrambling to replace its equipment for its next race. The European-based part of the team is set to ride the Circuit Cycliste Sarthe in France that starts on April 5.
"This is a sad and terrible situation. We are devastated by the loss of so much equipment and the invaluable sizing and measurement information for our time trial and race bikes. It's only a matter of time before these bikes resurface for sale somewhere, and we simply ask our friends and supporters to help us find the bikes and help the police catch the thieves," directeur sportif Vassili Davidenko said in a statement issued by the team.
Gangs of thieves have often targeted professional teams at races and training camps.
The Barloworld team had most of their road and time trial bikes stolen at a training camp in 2007 while the Silence-Lotto team was forced to pull out of the 2008 Giro della Provinicia di Grosseto when their bikes were stolen over night.
Teams try to deter theives by sleeping in trucks, storing bikes indoors and blocking the doors of vehicles with team cars. However none of these tactics seem to completely deter the thieves from trying to stealing the highly valuable bikes.