Team Type 1 out of Coppi-Bartali due to theft of bikes and equipment
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Saturday, March 26, 2011

Team Type 1 out of Coppi-Bartali due to theft of bikes and equipment

by Shane Stokes at 6:39 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
American team suffers overnight blow in Italy

Team type 1The American Team Type 1 - sanofi-aventis team has been forced to withdraw from the Settimana Internazionale Coppi e Bartali in Italy due to the theft of its bikes and equipment. Over 500,000 euros of bikes, tools, spare parts and equipment were taken from locked vehicles outside the team hotel last night. Thieves smashed the front window of a team car, climbed inside to release the brakes and then pushed the car back from the rear door of the panel van used to store equipment. The locks on the side and back doors were then forced off and everything inside were stolen.

To compound matters further, a large luggage door underneath the team bus was prised open and the bikes mounted in the storage bin under the bus were also stolen. Police were informed at 8.30 this morning and have begun their investigation.

“I think it happens two or three times a year in Italy. It is some organised group and we were the victims, sadly,” team spokesman Chris Baldwin told VeloNation today.

“We are still in the early stages of this. We are dealing with the police now, then we have about five different irons in the fire. The most important thing is to get replacement bikes for the guys to continue the racing programme. We are concentrating on that right now, working with our partners and our various suppliers.”

Sadly, theft of professional bike equipment has been taking place for many years in Italy, and police there have not stamped it out. In 2004, the bikes belonging to Cadel Evans, Matthew Hayman, Matt White, Michael Rogers and others were grabbed from the Australian team’s hotel at the world championships in Verona.

Rubens BertogliatiIn 2007, Team Barloworld had 21 team bikes taken from its training camp in Castagneto Carducci (Livorno), Tuscany. The following year, Team Silence-Lotto had to pull out of the second stage of the Giro della Provinicia di Grosseto when sixteen team bikes were stolen overnight. Other teams have also been hit in recent years.

Director sportif Vassili Davidenko is shaken by what happened, and has asked for people to keep their eyes out for the equipment. “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,” he said.

“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.”

Solid progress interrupted:

The team had been riding well in Italy, with Andrea Grendene grabbing second on stage one, the riders taking fifth in the team time trial, and Laszlo Bodrogi netting fifth in yesterday’s individual race against the clock. Unfortunately the race has come to an end, and the management’s focus will turn towards trying to get things back on track.

“We have two squads – we have a white squad and a blue squad,” said Baldwin. “The blue squad is up in Harelbeke [the GP E3 Harelbeke] today, and so we have got equipment for them. With this white squad here…basically everything is gone and we have to replace all that for them.”

It remains to be seen what the long term implications will be for the team; hopefully insurance will cover at least some of the loss. Even so, there is a logistical nightmare to sort out.

“We have got to spend a lot of cash today to solve this problem. The tools are all gone, we have no spare wheels. We had built things up well over the last four or five few years, but unfortunately that has all been wiped out in one night.

“We are a strong team, on the management side as well as on the bike side. We have got everything motion now to get it started. It is just lots of steps now, one at a time, to get back,” Baldwin continued. “We have got a strong relationship with our sponsors. We are going to work with them as quickly as we can to fix this situation.

Andrea Grendene“You can imagine the logistical nightmare…not just getting livery-coloured race bikes for these teams, but we have got to go get spanners, we have got to get the mechanic’s personal tools as well. There are guys with 20 – 25 years experience…we have to go and replace that stuff for them as well.”

The next races on the white squad’s schedule are on April 1st in Vitre, April 3rd in the Flèche d’Emeraude and then the Circuit Cycliste Sarthe, which begins on April 5th. Baldwin pointed out that the latter includes a time trial stage and so the team needs to try to get specialised bikes and equipment for that.

The team has had an expanded programme this year, picking up some important invitations from race organisers and boosting its roster. Baldwin says this is a setback, but that the team will keep fighting on. “We have been very happy with how things have been going up till now. We have had 15 top tens this year. Andrea was second on the sprint on the first stage of Coppi Bartali, and there have been other good results.

“We were slowly climbing that mountain and we are still on track to hit the peak. This is a small but serious avalanche that we have to deal with now,” he concluded.

Pictured above: the team's road and time trial bikes - please notify the team if you know of any such bikes being sold in suspicious circumstances -


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