Thanks to a collaborative campaign to find the unique “yellow jersey” painted Qhubeka Bicycle that was stolen from the fan park between Friday 5 July and Saturday 6 July at the Tour de France (TdF), the bicycle has been recovered.
The bicycle is one of four specially painted Qhubeka Bicycles at the Tour de France that represent the Tour jerseys. Qhubeka Charity is an official charity partner of Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO), the organiser of the TdF. The themed bicycles were created as part of a fundraising campaign for Qhubeka, a global charity based in Africa that helps people to move forward by providing bicycles that improve their access to schools, clinics and jobs.
The four bicycles, painted in honour of four Qhubeka bicycle beneficiaries and themed for the yellow, green, white and polka dot TdF jerseys, will be auctioned off at the end of the Tour to raise funds for Qhubeka work-to-earn and learn-to-earn programmes.
The missing bicycle became the subject of a large-scale social media campaign by riders, teams and Tour supporters, who joined together under the hashtags #GiveItBack and #RendezLe. Thanks to the Brussels police, who circulated information about the bicycle internally, including photos and CCTV footage, the bicycle was recovered in Brussels on 11 July after being spotted by an off-duty officer, who reported it.
“We appreciate the incredible support of the police, the teams at the Tour, and the global cycling community in trying to help us find the missing bicycle,” says Qhubeka Founder Anthony Fitzhenry. “This custom bicycle is very special to us, and it has been heart-warming to see people gathering together to help us find it. Every Qhubeka bicycle has the potential to change lives – the people who receive our bicycles are able to travel faster and further, and carry more, as well as unlocking economic opportunities. But this bicycle, which now has a very unique story, has the potential to help us change even more lives by generating funding for our programmes at auction, along with its three counterparts. Everyone knows that the yellow jersey is extremely sought after at the Tour, and we hope that our yellow jersey bicycle will be just as sought after. Our sincere thanks go to everyone who joined the search for the bicycle and the campaign to have it returned, and especially to the Brussels police for their exceptional work.”
The unique yellow bicycle is painted in honour of Hlungwani, a young man from a learn-to-earn Qhubeka programme in Limpopo, South Africa. “Having this Qhubeka bicycle feels like having a friend I can trust,” is his quote, emblazoned on the bicycle. Hlungwani dreams of becoming a professional cyclist one day. He practices his cycling every day, as he rides to and from school. He also uses it for exercising in his free time, which he now has more of, because his commute time is so much quicker.
James Louter from Qhubeka UK says that the support from the pro riders, such as Geraint Thomas, defending TdF champion, Peter Sagan, currently wearing the green jersey, and cycling legend Eddy Merckx, as well as the ASO, the Brussels police, and the Tour fans helped to put the spotlight on the yellow Qhubeka Bicycle, and to turn an unpleasant incident of theft into a positive demonstration of the power of partnership. “At Qhubeka UK, we like to say that together we can change more lives with bicycles, and this has been a real-life display of that in action, here on the global cycling stage,” he concludes.
To be part of changing more lives with bicycles, please consider joining the July ForQhubeka campaign here.