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Protest, bike thefts mar inaugural Grosseto tour

The second stage of the inaugural Tour of the Province of Grosseto on Saturday wasn’t exactly a thing of beauty. First, riders refused to contest the final sprint, calling the finishing straight too narrow and dangerous. So instead of barreling headlong down the sprint, the peloton rode at a snail’s pace across the line in protest, leaving Filippo Pozzato (Liquigas) in the leader’s jersey going into Sunday’s third stage.

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By Andrew Hood

The second stage of the inaugural Tour of the Province of Grosseto on Saturday wasn’t exactly a thing of beauty.

First, riders refused to contest the final sprint, calling the finishing straight too narrow and dangerous. So instead of barreling headlong down the sprint, the peloton rode at a snail’s pace across the line in protest, leaving Filippo Pozzato (Liquigas) in the leader’s jersey going into Sunday’s third stage.

Worse yet, Silence-Lotto couldn’t even race because its entire fleet of bicycles was stolen overnight from a team truck, leaving the Belgian team led by Yaroslav Popovych with nothing to race.

Team spokesman Filip Demyttenaere said that eight racing bikes and eight more back-up rides were stolen overnight Saturday after thieves broke into team vehicles to snag the bikes.

“Each bike cost 8000 euros, that costs us 128,000 euros, without counting other material,” Demyttenaere told AFP, adding that the heist looked like the work of “an organized gang.”

Instead of racing, the team headed back to Belgium to fit new bikes for their next event.