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Former Tour de France winner Stephen Roche guilty of fraud

Irish rider vows to fight back

Photo by: Sirotti

Stephen Roche, one of only two cyclists to ever win cycling’s triple crown, has been found guilty of fraud. The Irish rider won the Tour de France, the Giro d’Italia and the road worlds in 1987. The only other cyclist ever have achieved this feat was the great Eddy Merckx.

According to the Irish Times, Roche has been ordered to repay $1.1 million after a Spanish court proved that he negligently bankrupted his Majorca firm, using its assets to pay for his own extravagant lifestyle.

The civil court ruling determined that Roche used funds from his cycling tour company to pay for his own bills, as opposed to pay creditors. As a result of these actions, he has been banned from working as a company director in Spain for seven years. There could also be further criminal prosecution.

Roche, whose father died as well this week, told the Irish Times he will not give up. “I will bounce back, definitely. promised my dad I would,” he said. “The big thing is we are appealing. It’s not definitive.”

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Like many other retired pro cyclists, Roche created a cycling touring company upon hanging up his cleats. However, in 2017, the company, named Shamrock Events SL, went under, and with a string of debts in its wake.

In court, Judge Margarita Isabel Poveda Bernal  admonished Roche for using company money to pay for his luxurious lifestyle.

“Mr. Roche’s sumptuous expenditure on things like golf, apartment rentals, hotels in Switzerland and Hungary, restaurants, clothes stores and fashion houses like LOEWE, evidence a life of luxury and spending while his creditors weren’t paid.”

The judge added that those creditors included hotels that had given accommodation as well as meals to clients of Roche who had paid his company for bike holidays. The two main creditors of Roche’s company are two luxury hotels based in Majorca, the Aparthotel Ponent Mar and the Hotel Son Caliu, where his cycling clients would stay.

José Luis Lopez Morey, the lawyer representing Ponent Mar hotel, said the verdict was clear. “The judge has supported our assertion which was that the actions of Mr. Roche were completely negligent,” Morey said. “It was contrary to the behaviour of a law-abiding and dependable administrator.”

Although Roche can appeal the decision, Morey does not think he has much chance of it being overturned. “Any appeal has little chance of prospering.”