If you’ve been to a big bike race, you’ve almost certainly come away with the odd souvenir – a Skoda cap, T-Mobile inflatable hand, Cofidis keyring and postcards of the entire Riso Scotti 1998 team are among the must-have items we’ve nabbed at the roadside over the years. One Giro d’Italia fan clad only in underpants claimed the ultimate schwag at the weekend, however, when he found himself temporarily in possession of a Farnese Vini team bike, a Cipollini RB1000, the frame alone worth upwards of £4,000.
The incident happened on Stage 19 to Cervinia when Matteo Rabottini – who 24 hours later would ride solo for 90 kilometres and see off Joaquin Rodriguez in the closing metres to win at Pian dei Resinelli – needed to change bikes. Team manager Luca Scinto and a mechanic jumped out of the team car to help the rider, who had handed the bike to the fan to hold.
The car then sped off without the bike, the bemused fan brandishing it as it headed off up the road, as seen in the following clip from SBS Cycling Central.
In a report on its website, Farnese Vini said that Scinto had turned round as soon as he realised what had happened but found no trace of the bike, and muttering darkly about “theft,” promised to study video footage would in an attempt to bring the alleged thief to justice – whether that might involve an ID parade with individuals dressed only in underpants sadly isn’t known.
As it turned out, the bike wasn’t stolen at all, and was back with the team as Rabottini rode off to that stunning win in the mountains above Lake Como, although whether he was riding that specific frame is unclear.
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.