The Mauritius national cycling team have been dealt a heavy blow ahead of their trip to Egypt for the African Championships, with all 12 of their racing bicycles stolen in South Africa after the Cape Town Cycle Tour.
The dozen racing bikes, including that of Sunday’s women’s race winner Kim le Court de Billot, are worth around R1 million [US$ 67,000) and were stolen from the wine farm the team was staying at in Paarl, about an hour outside of Cape Town.
« Riders went down to the cellar this morning ahead of their training ride and to their horror discovered that their bicycles were gone, » said Mauritius coach Trevor Court on Thursday, per News24.
« Police did find bicycle tyre tracks on the farm and followed this spoor for some distance, but it eventually vanished at a big dirt road. We suspect the bicycles were loaded onto a vehicle. »
The South African Police Service appealed to the public for information on the very distinctive bikes, saying in a statement on Thursday: « Paarl Police needs the assistance of the public regarding the theft of bicycles with an estimated value of R1 million that was stolen from a guest farm in Paarl between Wednesday and today.
« A cycle group from Mauritius who participated in the Cape Cycle Race resided at the farm before their departure to participate in the Africa Cycle Race in Egypt.
« This morning [Thursday] it was discovered that twelve of the bicycles were stolen from the storage facility on the guest farm. »
The team had been due to fly to Egypt on Friday, but delayed their flight till Sunday in the hopes of having their bikes recovered. In the meantime, they will be borrowing bikes from friends and fellow cyclists.
Court added: « We are borrowing bicycles where we can, from friends and acquaintances. The UCI African center has also made three bicycles available and we will get some sent from the Mauritian federation. If anyone in the local cycling community can help, it will be much appreciated. »