Team Sky will ride the Tour du Haut Var despite having 16 bikes stolen overnight.
The mechanics awoke on Saturday morning to find the team’s support vehicle had been broken into at the hotel in Trans-en-Provence, but were able to source sufficient replacements in order to make the start line in Le Cannet des Maures.
Race Coach Shaun Stephens explained: “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. 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.
“Our Head of Operations, Carsten Jeppesen, made the trip there this morning to pick up whatever he could. We’ve got various training bikes and spare components, so fortunately the show goes on.
“The hardest thing was actually getting the replacement bikes set up in time for the race start. Our mechanics Alan [Williams] and Igor [Turk] did a tremendous job getting them prepared, and it’s been a great team effort in general.
“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.
“Our climber Sebastian [Henao] is going to be riding on that one today because it’s a sprint stage and we’ve had to work with what sizes are available, and then CJ [Sutton] is probably going to ride it tomorrow. CJ will ride my bike today and then swap it with Sebastian.
“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. Fortunately we had a lot of spare equipment there so we should be OK to continue without the need for any further replacements.”
Learn more about this year’s Tour du Haut Var via our race guide HERE.