Tour de France trophy stolen in Birmingham
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