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Thieves ransack TT1 vehicles, force squad from Settimana Internazionale Coppi e Bartali

  • By Andrew Hood
  • Published Mar. 26, 2011

Team Type 1-sanofi-aventis was forced to pull out of the Settimana Internazionale Coppi e Bartali in Italy after thieves ransacked the team’s vehicles overnight Friday and stole more than a half-million euros’ worth of bikes, equipment and gear.

Without their Colnago bikes and other equipment, the team had no choice but to abandon ahead of the start of the race’s fifth and final stage.

“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,” sport director Vassili Davidenko said in a team release. “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.”

According to a team report, mechanics woke up Saturday morning to discover the front window of a team car smashed and the vehicle pushed back from the back door of the locked panel van used to store equipment.

The locks on the side and back doors of the panel van were forced open and all bicycles, tools, wheels, spare parts and equipment was stolen. The large luggage door underneath the team bus was pried off and removed from the vehicle and all bikes mounted in the storage bin under the bus were stolen, the team reported.

Team officials estimated the value of the bicycles, tools, spare parts and equipment to be more than 500,000 euros (about $700,000 at current exchange rates).

Team Type 1 spokesman Chris Baldwin told VeloNews that thieves cleaned out the team’s vehicles, taking about 30 bikes, including road and time trial frames, as well as wheels, tools and other specialized equipment that will be a challenge to replace.

“It’s one thing if you steal money off the table, but it’s something else if you steal a bank’s entire capital. That’s what happened to us. Everything’s gone,” Baldwin said. “That’s the tragedy of this. Information and data that we spent years compiling is gone. Those special tools that you have for that one repair are gone. Practically everything from our European service course was in the van. Everyone was just a state of shock for 10 minutes.”

The team had been performing well at Coppi e Bartali, finishing second in the opening stage and posting top-10s in both the team time trial as well as individual time trial. With everything gone, however, Baldwin said it was impossible to scramble together enough equipment in time to start Saturday’s final hilly stage.

Bands of professional thieves often target teams, especially in Italy, looking for high-end bicycles and other equipment to sell on the black market. The team was staying at a hotel in Zola Pedrosa, a town just outside Bologna.

Team officials said police arrived at the hotel at 8:30 a.m. and an investigation is under way. The team’s squad participating in Saturday’s E3-Prijs semi-classic in Belgium was unaffected by the break-in.

“We did everything we could do. Everything was locked down. The vehicles were in a lot off the road. This has nothing to do with Italy or Italians. These were professionals and what happened was part of modern living and we were the victims today,” Baldwin said. “The police arrived and they were very professional. There’s already a nationwide alert.”

The team’s European squad is scheduled next to race in GP Vitre next weekend in France. Baldwin said team officials in both Europe and the United States are already talking with suppliers and other sponsors to rebuild the team’s cache of bikes and equipment.

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Andrew Hood

Andrew Hood

Andrew Hood cut his journalistic teeth at Colorado dailies before the web boom opened the door to European cycling in the mid-1990s. Hood has covered every Tour de France since 1996 and has been VeloNews' European correspondent since 2002.

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