Stephen Roche's appeal over case related to cycling business partially upheld

Stephen Roche's Appeal Over Case Related To Cycling Business Partially Upheld
Irish cycling hero Stephen Roche’s appeal against a damning court ruling following the collapse of his Spanish firm has been partially upheld. Photo: PA
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Gerard Couzens

Irish cycling hero Stephen Roche’s appeal against a damning court ruling following the collapse of his Spanish firm has been partially upheld.

The 1987 Tour de France winner was ordered to repay nearly €750,000 in April 2022 after a judge blasted him for “knowingly and negligently” bankrupting his Majorca-based cycling tourism business by plundering it to finance a luxury lifestyle.


On Wednesday, it emerged the 64-year-old Dundrum, Co Dublin-born dad-of-four had failed to convince appeal judges the earlier court decision to find him at fault for Shamrock Events SL going bust was not the correct one.

They confirmed the insolvency was rightfully declared “culpable” and not “fortuitous".

But in a partial win for the former professional road racer, the three Palma-based judges ruled he should repay the cash he took out of his firm for only the two years prior to it going into administration in April 2019.

Mr Roche’s lawyers had claimed nearly €350,000 of the six-figure sum he had initially been told to hand over following the April 2022 judgement should be excluded from the repayment order because it related to pre-April 2017 “asset stripping".


The final figure the ex-cyclist will have to repay has yet to be calculated but is now expected to be around €380,000 instead of the previous €733,866.

Mr Roche also got his seven-year company director ban reduced to two on appeal.


The appeal judges ruled in a 33-page document they had found no evidence to support the former cyclist’s claims he had done anything to justify his expenditure of cash he took out of his bankrupted company.

They confirmed: “In this case the insolvency has been declared culpable because of the absence of accounts, the breach of duty in asking for the company to be placed in administration and the asset-stripping that occurred in terms of the unjustified use of company money. We share those arguments.”


Mr Roche was cleared on appeal of fraudulently removing a Volkswagen Transporter Caravelle owned by Shamrock Events. A witness told an earlier court hearing he had seen the former cyclist driving away from a hotel in Majorca he used to work with.

The new court ruling marks the latest chapter in a long-running saga which originated in 2016 and erupted into the public domain nearly five years ago when Mr Roche, the first and only Irishman to win the Tour de France, was accused of a massive fraud in Majorca.

Court probe

It emerged at the time he was facing a court probe after an island lawyer lodged a lawsuit on behalf of a travel agency that claimed he cheated them out of thousands of euros.

Mr Roche broke down in tears in a tell-all 2019 interview as he spoke of the financial problems besetting him.


He refuted claims he had acted fraudulently on creditors owed money following the collapse of his cycling tourism business.

He blamed his cash woes in his Irish newspaper interview on problems with the sale of a property investment in France and a failed investment in a luxury car sales business, as well as personal setbacks, including the relapse with leukaemia of his then-19-year-old son Florian.

The appeal ruling that softens the financial blow for Mr Roche follows on from the initial one nearly two years ago by a judge at Palma’s Commercial Court Number Three.

Lower court judge Margarita Isabel Poveda Bernal concluded he had rode roughshod over warnings from his own staff that his firm was in trouble.


She also said he worsened its dire financial situation by financing his “luxurious lifestyle” with company money he should have used to pay the businesses he owed money to in a deliberate and conscious “asset-stripping” exercise.

She said at the time: “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, those who had provided accommodation and meals for his cycling clients and had paid him in advance and borne upfront all the cost associated with their services including personnel, groceries, water and electricity, weren’t paid.”

She concluded the retired sportsman’s role in “generating and aggravating” the insolvency of Palmanova-based Shamrock Events SL as its owner and sole administrator had been “malicious or gravely negligent".


Two hotels he used to work with in Majorca said they had been left out of pocket to the tune of nearly €400,000.

Jose Luis Lopez Moray, the lawyer acting for Ponent Mar SA which was one of the companies that took the former cyclist to court, said after the hard-hitting April 2022 judgement: “The judge supported our assertion the actions of Mr Roche were completely negligent and contrary to the behaviour of a law-abiding and dependable administrator.

“He’s taken advantage of his company for his own private benefit to the detriment of many people.”

Stephen Roche, the second of only two cyclists to win the Triple Crown of victories including the Tour de France at his 1987 peak, was regarded as one of the finest cyclists of his generation.

He had 58 professional career wins. All of the wins still stand, despite Roche having been accused by an Italian judge of taking EPO in the later part of his career.

He has four children with former wife Lydia.

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