Synergy Baku team trying to bounce back after bikes and most of its equipment is stolen
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Saturday, August 24, 2013

Synergy Baku team trying to bounce back after bikes and most of its equipment is stolen

by Shane Stokes at 3:46 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 
Hotel had requested team move vehicles, thieves strike during night

Kirill PozdnyakovIn an echo of what happened to the Garmin-Sharp team at the Tour of the Mediterranean earlier this year, the Synergy Baku team woke up this morning to the crushing realisation that an entire truck load of bikes and other equipment had been stolen overnight.

The news came on the morning of the final stage of the 2.2 ranked Baltic Chain Tour, affecting the Azerbaijan-backed Continental squad that made its competitive debut this year.

It had been staying in a hotel in the town of Panevezys, North Lithuania, and discovered this morning that ten BH bikes had been lost, as well as all of the spare HED wheels, SRM devices, tools, High 5 energy foods plus other odds and ends.

“This is a disaster. There is no other way to put it,” said the team’s general manager David McQuaid. “When you are waking up to six missed calls on two phones from Stefan [Rucker – the directeur sportif – ed.], you know something is seriously wrong.

“My first thoughts were not of what was taken, it was for the next races. We have a total of five Azeri participating in Florence and the next weeks were all about them. Jeremy Hunt is currently on a plane up from Melbourne to go into camp with them until Florence.

“We have two spare bikes out with the team in Borneo, but they go onto East Java. Because we are a new team, pretty much everything we owned was in that truck” McQuaid said.

The team’s frustration will be increased by the fact that precautions they normally take to prevent thieves from being able to gain access to the mechanic’s truck were frustrated by the hotel itself. This point is particularly galling for McQuaid.

“We have a pretty meticulous staff, in particular the staff that were working the Baltic event. But the hotel didn’t allow them to park in their particular format last night,” he said. “The organization re-assured the mechanic as the hotel was surrounded by two metre high walls and electric gates.

BH Ultralight RC“They had parked in their usual triangle formation to account for the fact that the van has a side door, but the organisers asked them in the evening to move because the hotel were complaining. They did that. After all the work was done staff went out for a beer. They came back at two AM, checked the vans, all was ok.

“This morning, everything was gone. The side door was used, the handle and lock were completely gone. There’s just a gaping hole there now. The Lithuania team’s truck was untouched.”

McQuaid said that it is believed that the thieves climbed over that two metre wall. The police took fingerprints and are investigating the matter.

He added that he understands that another rider, Thomas Vaitkus, had his car stolen in the same town last year. The Orica GreenEdge rider is competing in the race with the Lithuanian national team and told authorities today that he was followed by a black Audi in training yesterday.

It drove behind him back to the hotel, making him uneasy. Hours later, the Synergy Baku bikes and equipment were taken.

BH G6The team lined out on the final stage today using bikes borrowed from other teams. McQuaid is hoping that the Synergy Baku sponsors can help out now.

“I’ll speak to BH and HED, both of whom we were meeting next week at Eurobike. We need bikes asap, that’s the long and short of it,” he said. “The Worlds preparation cannot be de-railed because of some thugs.”

The models of bikes stolen were the Ultralight RC model, the blue trim version pictured above, plus three red G6 bikes. The team is asking cycling fans to keep an eye out for any suspicious sales; in the event of that, the team can be contacted at team@bakucyclingproject.com

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