Tour de France tro­phy stolen in Birm­ing­ham

Birmingham Post - - NEWS - Paul Suart Sports Writer

CHAM­PION cy­clist Geraint Thomas has made an emo­tional plea for the re­turn of his Tour de France tro­phy – af­ter it was stolen in Birm­ing­ham.

Thomas be­came only the third Brit, be­hind Sir Bradley Wiggins and four-time win­ner Chris Froome, to win the Yel­low Jer­sey when he tri­umphed in France in July.

But joy turned into de­spair when Thomas learned his prized sil­ver­ware had been stolen from the Cy­cle Show at Birm­ing­ham’s NEC.

Thomas’s Team Sky loaned the tro­phy to spon­sors and Ital­ian bike man­u­fac­turer Pinarello for dis­play at the three-day event. The tro­phy dis­ap­peared some­time be­tween 6.30pm and 7.30pm on Septem­ber 29. But po­lice were not in­formed un­til Oc­to­ber 2 and the news only re­vealed this week.

Team Sky said the Coupe Om­nis­ports was “mo­men­tar­ily left unat­tended and stolen” dur­ing the clear-up op­er­a­tion af­ter the show.

Cardiff-born Thomas, a dou­ble Olympic cham­pion, said the hand-made tro­phy’s theft was “in­cred­i­bly un­for­tu­nate”.

“It goes with­out say­ing that the tro­phy is of pretty lim­ited value to who­ever took it,” he said.

“But it means a lot to me and to the team. Hope­fully who­ever took it will have the good grace to re­turn it.

“A tro­phy is im­por­tant, but clearly what mat­ters most are the amaz­ing mem­o­ries from this in­cred­i­ble sum­mer – and noone can ever take those away.”

Thomas, 32, is due to re­ceive a replica of the orig­i­nal tro­phy as a per­ma­nent keep­sake next year.

Team Sky loaned all three Grand Tour tro­phies – won by Thomas at Le Tour and team­mate Froome at the Vuelta a Es­pana and Giro d’Italia – to Pinarello to show­case to cy­cling fans across the coun­try.

The Coupe Om­nis­ports was the only one that went miss­ing from the Cy­cle Show and has still not been tracked down.

Richard Hem­ing­ton, UK man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of Pinarello, said: “We are ob­vi­ously dev­as­tated about this. We ac­cept full re­spon­si­bil­ity and have per­son­ally apol­o­gised to Geraint. Ob­vi­ously, we hope the tro­phy can be re­cov­ered.”

For­mer World and Com­mon­wealth Games cham­pion Mark Cavendish was among the star names from the world of cy­cling at the event, held from Septem­ber 27 to 30.

“It’s clear to see why it’s one of the best show­cases for cy­cling in the coun­try,” Cavendish said.

“Its pop­u­lar­ity is a clear in­di­ca­tion of just how much the sport in Bri­tain has con­tin­ued to grow and flour­ish over the past few years.”

Now in its 17th year, the Cy­cle Show at­tracted thou­sands of fans and en­thu­si­asts as well as more than 300 ex­hibitors dis­play­ing over 500 brands.

> Geraint Thomas with the stolen cup

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