September 23/09 16:15 pm - Italian Border Guards are Cycling Fans UPDATED
Posted by Editoress on 09/23/09
It appears that the Italian border guards (at the Swiss border) are extorting from teams that are staying in Italy and crossing back and forth across the Swiss/Italy border each day to get to the site of the Road World Championships.
Apparently the Italian guards have been threatening to hold up team vehicles for extensive searches unless they are paid off with Pro Team jerseys.
One team was told that a search would take at least 4 hours unless they came up with a jersey - which they did
Geoff Brown, former mechanic for US Postal and Discovery, sent the following comment along to our item about Italian border guards extorting swag from teams at the Road Worlds.
Dear Canadian Cyclist, I just read the story you posted about Italian border guards extorting team jerseys from teams at the worlds in Mendrisio. This gave me my morning chuckle.
In all my years of working the pro circuit in Europe my colleagues and I have become used to this "custom". I could relate to you many incidences of being stopped all over Europe by law enforcement officials and being asked for a souvenir.
In Italy for example especially during Milan- San Remo the Italian Polizia Stradale always have a checkpoint set up on the motorway to San Remo to pull over all the team trucks and busses who are transfering to the finish. The officers are always very friendly and polite as they tell us about their amateur cycling exploits and their lack of good equipment. We reciprocate by opening the back of the truck and letting them have a look around to choose a souvenir. This year I gave away 4 tubulars, 4 clinchers and tubes and a set of shoeplates. A short while later the same officer stopped our bus for his jersey and shorts which the driver happily gave him. To be fair most of the officers who stop us are young fit guys who actually look like cyclists.
Anyhow this too is all part of the European cycling tradition!
Yours in cycling,