Expatica reports that it’s not just pro cyclists who have been in training for the cobbled classics. It seems that spring brings a rise in cycle theft in Belgium due to rising demand for expensive bikes.
Thieves targeted bike shops in Geraardsbergen, Sint Niklaas and Kluisbergen last weekend, with a quarter of a million euros’ worth of bikes taken.
Last year there was a 39 per cent rise in bike shop burglaries and the trend appears to be continuing.
Christine Mattheeuws, of the association of independent professionals, said: "These are professional marauding gangs who break in at night and target expensive bikes, especially the following brands: Kuota, Specialized, Eddy Merckx and Pinarello."
She explained: "The start of the cycling season means an increased demand for bikes – unfortunately, also in criminal circles."
Mattheeuws said the thieves were highly professional in how they went about their business. "They reconnoitre the premises – preferably when the shop owners and staff are busy with customers. Shop owners should be vigilant, note down the number plates of people acting suspiciously and report them to the police."
Professional teams themselves are often targets for thieves. In November, a handful of JLT Condor team bikes were taken from a warehouse in Central London, including Olympian Ed Clancy’s racing bike.