By Ryan Dabbs
Italy's team mechanics have retrieved the 22 track bikes stolen from them during the World Championships in Roubaix in October, travelling to Romania to collect them from local police.
Romanian authorities discovered the stolen bikes, worth over €400,000 in total, during a drugs raid on a criminal group.
Included among the stolen items were four gold Pinarello Bolide track bikes used by Filippo Ganna and his Olympic gold medal-winning team pursuit teammates. The rest were all custom-built with unique colours and 3D-printed handlebars.
Italy's cycling team discovered they had been the victim of the theft after the Pinarello machines had been packed into a van and left in secure parking at a Lille hotel following the individual pursuit.
Once the police had discovered the bikes, 20 people were arrested as part of an operation that included a drugs raid on multiple properties in eastern Romania. Police also recovered other stolen goods, such as televisions and mobile phones, alongside the bikes.
The Italian Cycling Federation's national team mechanics travelled to Romania on Monday to retrieve the bikes, after lawyers completed the necessary paperwork for the release of the machines.
Italian Federation president Cordiano Dagnoni said that the mechanics managed to recover all of the bikes from Romania successfully, minus a few wheels.
He told La Gazzetta dello Sport: “They loaded the bikes on Monday and left Romania straight away. Now the bikes are back in Italy, in the Montichiari velodrome. They’re all there, only a few wheels are missing."
The Montichiari velodrome, near Brescia, is now housing the bikes securely.
Before the ordeal of having their bikes stolen, Italy had managed to pick up two gold medals at the Track World Championships in Roubaix.
Elia Viviani won the men's elimination race, while Letizia Paternoster did the same in the women's elimination. Martina Fidanza also secured gold in the women's scratch, with the men's quartet of Liam Bertazzo, Simone Consonni, Filippo Ganna and Jonathan Milan picking up gold in the team pursuit - a couple of months after they had won gold at the Tokyo Olympics.
The track cycling world championships will return to France once again in 2022, with Vélodrome de Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines in Montigny-le-Bretonneux hosting the event.
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