Lifeplus-Wahoo have all 14 bikes stolen at Tour of Britain Women, receive spare bikes for stage 2

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Before the start of stage 2 of the Tour of Britain Women, UCI Continental outfit Lifeplus-Wahoo were dealt the bitter blow of having their entire fleet of bikes stolen overnight. The team awoke on Friday morning to find that all 14 of their Ribble Bikes had been taken from the mechanic’s van in Shropshire.

There were concerns that the team might not be able to start stage 2 on Friday, but Cofidis, VolkerWessels and more have donated bikes to the team to allow them to race.

“We woke this morning to find all 14 of our Ribble Endurance SLR bikes stolen from our mechanic’s van,” wrote the team in a statement posted to social media.

Stage 1 of the revamped Tour of Britain Women took place in Wales and Lifeplus-Wahoo were disappointed to have missed the day’s breakaway, but were able to take 10 points in the Queen of the Mountains competition through Heidi Franz.

Read more: Tour of Britain Women stage 1: Lotte Kopecky wins from elite breakaway after photo finish review

With stage 2 beginning in Wrexham, Lifeplus-Wahoo stayed in the English border town of Whitchurch, Shropshire on Thursday evening. It is from the Macdonald Hill Valley Hotel that the team’s bikes were stolen.

In total, the team lost 14 Ribble Endurance SLR bikes from the mechanic’s van, all of which carried the team’s distinctive two-tone green colouring, with a dash of red on the forks carrying the sponsorship of clothing manufacturer MAAP.

Cofidis, VolkerWessels and more donate bikes for stage 2

The news of the bike theft was shared far and wide on social media in an effort to recover the bikes, but in the end, it was the generosity of their competitors that allowed Lifeplus-Wahoo to take to the start.

Two hours after their initial statement, the team released an update on social media, with a picture showing their five remaining riders waving to the crowd from the stage sign-on.

“Wrexham we are here 💪🏼,” the team said in an update released two hours after their first statement.

“All of our thanks and appreciation goes out to the many teams that offered and gave their spare team bikes and their mechanics time to get our girls on the road. We wouldn’t be starting without them!”

Pictures released by the Lloyds Bank Tour of Britain Women X account soon showed Lifeplus-Wahoo’s riders being fitted out on the bikes of other teams, with mechanics from other teams working hard to prepare the bikes.

One rider will be using a spare Look bike of Nikola Nosková from Cofidis, whilst VolkerWessels Women’s Pro Cycling Team donated a Factor bike to Babette van der Wolf. VolkerWessels are using Specialized bikes this season, but the bike provided to Van der Wolf was a Factor marked up in the team’s colours from last season as Parkhotel Valkenburg.

The other teams to donate bikes were St Michel-Mavic-Auber93 (Cannondale), Liv AlUla Jayco (Liv) and SD Worx-Protime, who had an old tiger-print Specialized that was used when the team were known as Boels-Dolmans. Lifeplus-Wahoo are said to have one spare bike on the team car’s roof rack, provided by SD Worx-Protime.

“We will be there on the start line, we’re extremely grateful to the other teams. They are lending their equipment, also their mechanics and their time to help us be there. The riders are obviously not starting with their own bikes due to the situation that we had overnight, but we will be there on the start line and ready to fight,” said Lifeplus-Wahoo’s general manager Tom Varney.

“The feeling is good from yesterday and we have to try and keep the morale here. The girls are super understanding of the situation, so we are pretty sure that once they’re comfortable on the bikes, they’ll be ready to go.

Second blow in a week for Lifeplus-Wahoo

The theft of the team’s bikes compounded a miserable week for the team which began with the withdrawal of Kate Richardson from their Tour of Britain Women squad. Richardson, a 21-year-old British cyclist, was hit by a motorist whilst out training ahead of the race and suffered a fractured scapula.

“I was on a narrow single-track road, no more than 3m wide, on a blind bend and clearly the driver couldn’t wait 10 more seconds to overtake me. He decided to try and squeeze his huge 4×4 past me at a high speed, hitting me hard and knocking me off my bike,” she wrote in a statement posted to Instagram.

Between Richardson’s crash and the theft of their bikes after stage 1, Lifeplus-Wahoo will be hoping to change their fortunes around heading into the final three stages of the race.

For all the latest developments from the world of professional cycling, make sure to head over to our dedicated racing news section of the GCN website.

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