Tadej Pogačar luxury watch thieves to serve time after Paris-Nice robbery

The Tour of Flanders champion is the latest cycling star to be robbed of a luxury watch

Tadej Pogačar rides the Tour of Flanders
When riding in long sleeves, Pogačar has a "Richard Mille" advert on his wrists
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Two men who who stole Tadej Pogačar’s watch during this year's Paris-Nice have been sentence to four years in prison by a a French court.

32-year-old Jonathan Napolitano and 37-year-old Haikel Jerbi were found guilty of stealing the Richard Mille watch, with a reported value of €165,000, from the UAE Team Emirates hotel in Valbonne during the race in early March this year, Nice-Matin reported on Wednesday.

The robbery occurred about 6pm on the 11th March during Paris-Nice, the evening before Pogačar’s overall victory at the race in Nice.

The Slovenian told the court in Nice this week that the Richard Mille watch had been given to him by his sponsor after the Tokyo Olympic Games.

“It was a special watch for me,”  Pogačar told the court. "I find it curious that they could sell it so quickly, with no box or documentation."

The 24-year-old was not present in his room when the theft occurred, as he was getting a massage on the same hotel floor. During this window, Napolitano and Jerbi convinced a trainee waitress to let them into Pogačar's room on the pretence of being guests wanting to serve a drink to one of their partners.

The two men also were found guilty of robbing two more watches, both still missing, from a safe in a home in Nice, a crime that was aided with the use of a tracker put under the victim's car, and a story about a lost bird.

It was due to this earlier robbery that the police were able to apprehend the pair, however none of the stolen watches have been recovered. The two men were arrested on the 16th March.

As well as the four-year prison sentence handed down, the two were each fined €50,000.

Pogačar is not the first professional cyclist to be robbed of his luxury watch. 

Romario Henry and Ali Sesay were both convicted of robbery and sentenced to prison at Chelmsford Crown Court earlier this year, after they broke into Mark Cavendish's family home in November 2021.

In January, the court was told that the pair broke into the house wearing balaclavas and put Cavendish in a headlock with a knife to his throat.

The robbers then forced the family to hand over phones, a safe and two Richard Mille watches values at £400,000 and £300,000, among other items.

The cyclist's wife, Peta Cavendish, told the court how the crime had "turned a loving family home into a constant reminder of threat and fear".

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Adam Becket
Senior news and features writer

Adam is Cycling Weekly’s senior news and feature writer – his greatest love is road racing but as long as he is cycling on tarmac, he's happy. Before joining Cycling Weekly he spent two years writing for Procycling, where he interviewed riders and wrote about racing, speaking to people as varied as Demi Vollering to Philippe Gilbert. Before cycling took over his professional life, he covered ecclesiastical matters at the world’s largest Anglican newspaper and politics at Business Insider. Don't ask how that is related to cycling.