On the morning of the final stage of the Baltic Chain Tour (UCI 2.2) the staff of the Azerbaijan registered Synergy Baku Cycling Project team awoke to learn that the team van had been broken into overnight and completely emptied of it’s contents.
The vehicle involved was the mechanic vehicle and contained all the equipment belonging to the team. The thieves took a total of 10 BH bicycles, all spare HED wheels and tools. The thieves even went so far as to take all High 5 energy foods, work shop boxes of gear and brake cables and a hose, leaving the vehicle completely empty of it’s contents.
The incident happened in the town of Panevezys, North Lithuania where the team were staying overnight at the Head Quarters Hotel of the Baltic Chain Tour, a race which over 6 days of racing takes in the Baltic countries of Finland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
“This is a disaster. There is no other way to put it” said David McQuaid, General Manager of the Baku outfit. “When you are waking up to 6 missed calls on two phones from Stefan (Rucker – DS) you know something is seriously wrong. My first thoughts were not of what was taken, it was for the next races. We have a total of 5 Azeri participating in Florence and the next weeks were all about them. Jeremy Hunt is currently on a plane up from Melbourne to go into camp with them until Florence” he further added.
“We have two spare bikes out with the team in Borneo, but they go onto East Java. Because we are a new team, pretty much everything we owned was in that truck” McQuaid said. Before adding to the comment further “We have a pretty meticulous staff, in particular the staff that were working the Baltic event. But the hotel didn’t allow them to park in their particular format last night and the organization re-assured the mechanic as the Hotel was surrounded by 2 metre high walls and electric gates. They got in the side door of the truck, like professionals and over the wall, which is being finger printed. It looks like we were the target of a professional gang, as neither of the other vehicles were touched.”. The matter is now part of a Police investigation.
The team participating in the event will take to the start line of the final stage on bikes and equipment provided by other teams. Meanwhile the management have an ‘arduous’ task ahead of them to have their athletes on bikes as early as tomorrow according to McQuaid. “I’ll speak to BH and HED, both of whom we were meeting next week at Eurobike. We need bikes asap, that’s the long and short of it. The Worlds preparation cannot be de-railed because of some thugs” he stated., before finally stating “We were having a bad week in Baltic as it was”