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.
Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.