The Great Britain men?s 100% ME Academy team was forced to miss their first race in Italy on Sunday after thieves stole eight bikes from the team truck overnight.

The team was staying near Macerata in central Italy before the GP San Giuseppe and woke up to discover that six team bikes and two spare bikes had been stolen. With only one bike left in the team truck and little time to find replacements, the team was forced to return to their base in Tuscany instead of riding their first race.

?We got up this morning and discovered that the bikes had been stolen during the night,? Academy directeur sportif Rod Illingworth told cyclingweek.co.uk.

?The team car was parked behind the door of the team truck but the thieves moved the truck forward and then forced the doors open. They took eight bikes but left the tools and other stuff. Another team was also robbed and police said other teams have been cleaned out in the past.?

?It?s a pity because this was our first race of the season in Italy and all the lads were ready to race. Hopefully we?ll be able to build enough bikes from our spares and training bikes but it?s not a great way to start our Italian season.?

If everything goes to plan the Academy team will be back in action next weekend at the Milan-Busseto race on Saturday and near Venice on Sunday.