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 has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.