Aitor Gonzalez, winner of the 2002 Vuelta, has been arrested following an attempted break-in at a mobile phone store in Alicante, south east Spain, in what is his fourth reported brush with the law.
According to Spanish sports newspaper Marca, the 41-year-old – one of a select group of riders to have won a stage in all three Grand Tours – was arrested in the early hours of Tuesday morning.
The newspaper says he was caught red-handed by a police officer investigating noises at the shop in Calle Garcia Andreu, with Gonzalez – who protests his innocence – alleged to have broken the security shutter and smashed the window.
After being released on bail pending trial, Gonzalez told Radio Marca’s programme Intermedio: “"I have never been charged with a crime of theft of property in my life. Never."
“I was with some people I met while out partying,” he went on. “They smashed a window, but they weren’t stealing.”
Gonzalez, riding for Kelme-Costa Blanca, won the 2002 Vuelta on the final day’s time trial when he overhauled the 1 minute 8 second advantage of US Postal’s Roberto Heras.
The Basque rider won the 2005 Tour de Suisse with Euskaltel-Euskadi, but later that year failed an anti-doping control at the Vuelta for which he would be handed a two year ban, prompting his retirement at the age of 31.
In 2007, he was fined and banned from driving for a year after being caught at the wheel of his car while under the influence of alcohol and cocaine.
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.