Team Sky say they have been able to start the Tour du Haut Var today, despite becoming the latest professional cycling team to fall victim to thieves, with 16 Pinarello bikes stolen from a vehicle outside the team hotel in the South of France overnight.
The team is the latest to suffer a large-scale theft of equipment, with Cannondale Pro Cycling and Lampre-Merida both losing falling victim to break-ins at their premises in recent months, with bikes and components stolen.
The theft from Sky is similar to one suffered by Garmin-Sharp sharp just over 12 months ago when it had to pull out of the Tour Méditerranéen after 16 bikes were taken from a team van, again outside its hotel.
Unlike the American team, Sky were able to take to the start line this lunchtime after managing to obtain replacement bikes, most of them from its training base in Nice, 100km away by road, and one being lent by the Bretagne-Séché Environnement team who were staying at the same hotel in Le Cannet des Maures.
Sky race coach Shaun Stephens told the team’s website: “The thieves took all the bikes, bar two, and we presume they only left those because they’d run out of space in whatever transport they were using. They also took some of the spare training wheels, and various bits of other equipment.
“We’re still able to take part in the race though and seven of our eight riders will be riding team-issue Pinarellos. The two that were left in the van are going to be used and we managed to source five others from our training house in Nice, which is about an hour away from where we’re staying.
“Our Head of Operations, Carsten Jeppesen, made the trip there this morning to pick up whatever he could. We’ve got various training bikes and spare components, so fortunately the show goes on.”
“The hardest thing was actually getting the replacement bikes set up in time for the race start. Our mechanics Alan [Williams] and Igor [Turk] did a tremendous job getting them prepared, and it’s been a great team effort in general.
Speaking of the bike lent to the team by Bretagne-Séché Environnement, which will be ridden by Sebastien Henao in today’s sprint stage and by Chris Sutton tomorrow, he said: “That was a really nice gesture from them and we appreciate it a lot. Things like that really show the spirit of cycling and we can’t thank them enough.”
He added: “Racing so close to Nice, it's almost the best of a bad situation, because if it had been anywhere else in the world we’d have been in real trouble and probably not been able to take part.
“Fortunately we had a lot of spare equipment there so we should be OK to continue without the need for any further replacements.”
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.