Mark Cavendish has detailed how he and his family were subject to a violent armed robbery while the QuickStep sprinter was recovering from his Ghent Six crash in their family home in Essex.
Writing on Instagram, Cavendish said that he was attacked by four masked and armed men who had broken into the family’s home on November 27, with the gang threatening his wife and children at knifepoint.
The thieves got away with two watches, Cavendish wrote, appealing for anybody with information to come forward and call the police non-emergency number 101, quoting the reference number 42/275184/21.
“In the early hours of 27th November, while recovering at our Essex family home shortly after leaving intensive care, four masked and armed men forced their way into our home as we slept, threatened my wife and children and violently attacked me. At knifepoint, they proceeded to ransack our belongings,” Cavendish wrote.
“Amongst what was taken were two watches of great sentiment and value. But far, far worse to be taken was the sense of security, safety, privacy and dignity that my young family and everybody else is entitled to in their own home.
“The effect that this nightmare has had on my family is already heart-breakingly evident, so I beg anybody who may be able to help us with information to call 101, quoting reference 42/275184/21.”
Cavendish was recovering at home after leaving hospital in Belgium following his crash at the Ghent Six on November 21.
The Manxman, who recently signed a new one-year deal to stay at QuickStep-AlphaVinyl, was caught in a crash at the final day of the track event and spent several days in the ICU with a punctured lung and two fractured ribs.
Essex police have confirmed that they are investigating the aggravated burglary after they were called to Cavendish’s house at 2:35am following the incident. A statement issued by the police noted that Cavendish had been assaulted, though thankfully neither he nor his family suffered any serious injuries.
Police confirmed that the armed gang stole a Louis Vuitton suitcase and two high-value watches, all of which are pictured on the police appeals page.
“This was undoubtedly a targeted incident at the home of a celebrated British Olympian, who at the time was recovering from significant injuries resulting from a crash whilst competing, which was well publicised. Our investigation is moving along at pace and we are following a number of lines of inquiry as we seek to catch those responsible,” said detective inspector Tony Atkin, the senior investigating officer on the case.
“Mr Cavendish and his wife were assaulted and threatened in their own home, in the presence of their young children, who witnessed these events. Thankfully, they are recovering, but the traumatic effect will be long standing.”
In addition to the statement and photographs of the items stolen, police also released CCTV images of the burglars.
“Today, we are releasing images of the people captured on CCTV fleeing the scene and we would urge anyone who recognises them to get in contact with us immediately,” Atkin said. “We are also releasing images of the suitcase and two watches which were stolen during the incident.
“It is likely the people who stole these items are attempting to offload them for sizeable sums of money and I would urge anyone who is being offered these items to please get in touch with us – they are stolen property. If you have been offered these items, please contact us immediately.”
“We know an incident such as this will naturally cause a lot of concern within the community. There will continue to be a visible policing presence in the area as our investigations progress in the coming days.”
Cavendish’s ordeal wasn’t the first time a pro cyclist has been targeted by thieves this year. Alpecin-Fenix rider Alexander Richardson had his bike stolen from him in Richmond Park, London in October after he was followed by an armed gang, who drove a motorbike into him before threatening him with a machete.
As well as phoning 101 and quoting the reference 42/275184/21, any information about the burglary or the items stolen can also be given anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.