A custom road bike belonging to Nicolas Roche has been lost for 11 days after the retired Irish pro’s flight from Gatwick airport to Nice was cancelled at the last minute.
The former Team Sky and BMC rider was travelling home to Monaco and had checked in his bike bag and other luggage when he was informed of the cancellation of the EasyJet flight, Sticky Bottle reports.
While Roche and his fellow passengers had not yet made it through security at the time of the announcement, his bags had gone ahead and remain missing 11 days later, despite the Irishman’s continuous efforts to track them down.
Credit: FiftyOne Bikes
The missing bike was custom built for the two-time Vuelta a España stage winner following his retirement from the sport at the end of last year by FiftyOne Bikes, the company founded by former racer Aidan Duff and for whom Roche now works as a test pilot.
Roche’s four Irish road race championships, four Olympic Games participations and two Vuelta stages are commemorated in the design of the bike, which was built to the former Sunweb man’s demanding specifications, which included an emphasis on comfort and endurance while retaining the frame’s stiffness and dynamism.
Roche told Sticky Bottle that he was working in the UK the week before last and was travelling with the now-lost bike for a corporate job. He then rushed to the airport to fly home to Monaco, where he had another work appointment with Swiss clothing manufacturer Assos.
“I checked in the bag, and then went to the oversized luggage area to give in the bike bag and they accepted it. Of course that system is all automated but it took the bags,” he said.
After being informed of the cancellation shortly after check-in, Roche tried – with no success – to secure information about the location of his bike at Gatwick’s customer service area. Needing to get home for work, the cyclist turned his attention to securing an alternative flight. But thanks to the travel chaos stemming from the cancelled flights, Roche only saw his front door in Monaco a frustrating 24 hours later.
11 days on, Roche is still waiting to receive information about his missing bike bag and luggage, which contains his cycling kit. While he is convinced that the bike is still in Gatwick airport, an EasyJet employee – who rang him inquiring how he got home after failing to book another flight with the airline – told Roche that it was now Nice airport’s responsibility to locate his belongings.
“But this was despite the flight being cancelled and never leaving London,” he said.
“So I kicked up about that and the guy [from EasyJet] agreed to keep my file open. Normally I’d have [tracking] tags in my bag but this time, because I was making a very quick visit and the travel arrangements were going to be tight, I travelled with smaller luggage to make things faster. So, I hadn’t put the tag into the new bag.
“It’s either in the airport or someone has nicked it, which is always a possibility with these things I guess. But so far all they have told me is they have no news.”
The return of mass air travel following two years of Covid-related restrictions, and the stress it has placed on airlines, has resulted in a global baggage crisis with luggage – including bikes – piling up in airports.
Over the past few months, we’ve shared stories from a range of cyclists – from keen amateurs taking on challenges abroad to Ironman competitors and Tour de France riders – whose bikes have gone missing in transit.
In July, we reported that Scottish cyclist Richard Davidson had flown to Stanstead on his way to the five-day Haute Route Pyrenees only to be told by EasyJet that his £14,000 bike and gear had ended up in Naples due to issues with a label printer at Edinburgh Airport.
The 55-year-old had spent 10 months training for the event, covering 5,500 miles, and ultimately was able to complete the event having bought a helmet, shoes, shorts and hired a bike.
Novo Nordisk pro rider Stephen Clancy also reported his €12,000 Argon team bike went missing at Dublin Airport as he travelled to Copenhagen at the end of June, while Israel-Premier Tech pro Guillaume Boivin was forced to borrow a bike for the Tour de France’s opening time trial in the Danish capital after three of his bikes were lost on the flight from Canada.
Ryan joined road.cc as a news writer in December 2021. He has written about cycling and some ball-centric sports for various websites, newspapers, magazines and radio. Before returning to writing about cycling full-time, he completed a PhD in History and published a book and numerous academic articles on religion and politics in Victorian Britain and Ireland (though he remained committed to boring his university colleagues and students with endless cycling trivia). He can be found riding his bike very slowly through the Dromara Hills of Co. Down.