Two teenagers sentenced to 18 months for role in theft of €400k's worth of Italian bikes at World Championships

The pair stole 22 Italian bikes from a van at the team hotel

Italy Cycling team Romania Roubaix gold bikes
(Image credit: PA Images)

A Lille court has sentenced two teenagers to 18 months in prison for their involvement in the theft of 22 bikes from the Italian national track team at the World Championships in October in Roubaix. 

The pair, identified as 18-year-old Franko T from France and 19-year-old Valerijo H from Italy, were part of a gang that stole the bikes from a van parked at the Italian team hotel two days before the end of the championships. 

The pair stole the 22 Pinarello machines, worth over €400,000, after breaking into the van, and were subsequently involved in having the bikes transported to Romania, where they were later found. 

The bikes were all custom-built with unique colours and 3dDprinted handlebars, and included Filippo Ganna’s one-of-a-kind gold Pinarello Bolide track bike.

Investigators quickly found and identified the two men's fingerprints in the Italian team's van, before discovering Italian team packaging and the vehicle used for the theft during a search of their homes. 

Le Journal de Saône-et-Loire is reporting that the two defendants claimed they were approached by "a Romanian"  offering to "unload and reload bikes for 200 euros" on the night they stole the bikes. The defendants' lawyers also claimed the teenagers weren't the main perpetrators in the theft, with a more organised and professional criminal gang using them as "scapegoats".

Prosecutors had requested 30 months in prison for the theft committed "within the framework of an extremely well-established organisation" by defendants "already convicted on several occasions for acts of theft".

However, the pair now face 18 months each for their roles in taking the Italian team's bikes. 

The Italian Cycling Federation's national team mechanics eventually retrieved the track bikes a week later from Romania, after local police discovered them during an operation that included a drugs raid on multiple properties.

Police initially arrested 20 people during this operation, before retaining four individuals in custody in conjunction with the bike theft.

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Staff Writer

Ryan is a staff writer for Cycling Weekly, having joined the team in September 2021. He first joined Future in December 2020, working across FourFourTwo, Golf Monthly, Rugby World and Advnture's websites, before making his way to cycling. After graduating from Cardiff University with a degree in Journalism and Communications, Ryan earned a NCTJ qualification to further develop as a writer.