How does the Tour de France combat Bike Theft?

How does the Tour de France combat Bike Theft?

Bike theft is devastating for any cyclist. There are a lot of people who rely on their bike for transport and having it suddenly stolen can have a drastic effect on their ability to work. Now imagine that cycling was your job, and you’ve woken up one morning to take part in the biggest race of your professional career only to find your bike has vanished! Devastating is an understatement.

There have been many occasions where bikes have gone missing during important cycling races. 

Team Sky Bikes

In 2014 Team Sky had 16 bikes stolen on the eve of Tour du Haut Var which resulted in them having to borrow from the Bretagne-Seche Environnement Team. Thieves broke into the team’s support vehicle and stole all but two bikes - presumably because they ran out of space in the vehicle they used to transport them away.  They also stole some of the spare training wheels and various other equipment.

The following year Danish team Cult Energy reported 36 bikes stolen whilst at the Tour de Haut Var. The theft took place during the night as thieves broke into the team’s truck and took everything. Cult Energy Sport’s Director Michael Skelde stressed how devastating it was as they had parked cars blocking the entrance to the truck. Somehow the thieves managed to move these cars and they stole everything.

Trek-Segafredo's Women's team

Image Credit: Trek-Segafredo

Earlier this month, six bikes were stolen from Trek-Segafredo’s Women’s team the night before Strade Bianche. The bikes were stored in a truck that was parked outside the place where the team were staying. Thieves broke the roof and managed to get into the equipment room to steal them. The team were forced to use spare bikes, and even borrow some, with Ellen van Dijk ending up riding a bike that belonged to men’s rider Koen de Kort.

There are many more incidents like this with nearly all the planned thefts targeting a team's truck throughout the night. These trucks carry hundreds of thousands of euros worth of high-end cycling equipment, and teams will do what they can to try and protect them. Often, teams will park their cars very close to the truck doors meaning they can’t be fully opened. This may work sometimes, but as the above examples have proven, not always.

Cannondale Team Truck

The Tour de France is the highest-profile bike race in the world and they do not want to jeopardise anyone's chances in the race due to bike theft. So to combat any professional theft attempts, the Tour de France issues security guards to patrol the carparks where each team is staying. Usually because they require so much room they stay in motels, and you can often find several teams staying at the same motel, meaning their car park contains a lot of expensive cycling equipment. Having security guards in the area will deter any theft attempts from taking place and will allow the cyclists to sleep a little easier.

Not all bike thefts are pre-planned professional attempts. During the 2015 Vuelta a Espana, German rider Ben King was involved in a crash and lost his bike’s computer. Whilst looking for it, a shirtless spectator with a cigarette in his mouth popped out of the crowd and tried to steal his bike

Spectator tries to steal Ben King's Bike

Whether you are a professional cyclist, leisure cyclist, or a daily commuter, your bike is always going to attract the attention of bike thieves. Sometimes they are going to be pre-planned professionals who know what they are looking for, and sometimes it will be an opportunist who will try and ride off on your bike when you are looking the other way. 

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Litelok Securing a Cannondale bike