Thieves make off with 16 Sky bikes
10:44am Saturday 22nd February 2014 in © Press Association 2014
Team Sky may have one of the biggest budgets in professional cycling but one of their riders will be on borrowed equipment at this weekend's Tour du Haut Var after thieves made off with 16 bikes on the eve of the race.
Sky's participation in the two-day event was initially thrown into doubt after team mechanics discovered the loss of all but two of the bikes the team had on hand in the south of France. They had been stolen from the support vehicle.
However, with the race start in Le Cannet des Maures not too far from their training base in Nice they have been able to get five more bikes to the start before borrowing another from the Bretagne-Seche Environnement Team.
"The thieves took all the bikes, bar two, and we presume they only left those because they'd run out of space in whatever transport they were using," Sky's race coach Shaun Stephens told the team's website. "They also took some of the spare training wheels, and various bits of other equipment.
"We're still able to take part in the race, though, and seven of our eight riders will be riding team-issue Pinarellos. The two that were left in the van are going to be used and we managed to source five others from our training house in Nice, which is about an hour away from where we're staying.
"The remaining bike we've been able to borrow from the Bretagne-Seche Environnement team, who we've been sharing our hotel with. That was a really nice gesture from them and we appreciate it a lot. Things like that really show the spirit of cycling and we can't thank them enough."
Climber Sebastian Henao will take the borrowed bike on Saturday's sprint stage, while Chris Sutton is expected to be on board on Sunday.
"Racing so close to Nice, it's almost the best of a bad situation, because if it had been anywhere else in the world we'd have been in real trouble and probably not been able to take part," Stephens added. "Fortunately we had a lot of spare equipment there so we should be okay to continue without the need for any further replacements."
With Tour de France winner Chris Froome at the Tour of Oman, and Sir Bradley Wiggins and Richie Porte at the Ruta del Sol in Spain, Sky's squad in France features the likes of Ian Boswell, Nathan Earle, and Josh Edmondson.