The riders of the Tour de France are about to see their daily life punctuated by the kilometers swallowed along the Grande Boucle, but the Bahrain Victorious cycling team is getting used – against their will – to another form of repetition. On the eve of the start of the 109th edition of the Tour de France, the Bahraini team announced that it had been the subject of a new search, Thursday, June 30, at its hotel in the suburbs of Copenhagen (Denmark), from where the race. This a few days after the homes of several team members were searched earlier this week.

At the request of French investigators, “the [Danish] police searched the team cars, as well as the rooms of the management staff and the cyclists”, specifies the team of Slovenian Matej Mohoric (two-time stage winner in 2021) in a press release, claiming to have “cooperated completely” and that “no object was seized” during this search, which began at 5:30 a.m.

Since the 2021 Tour, the Bahrain Victorious team has been under investigation by the Marseille prosecutor’s office for “acquisition, transport, possession, import of a prohibited substance or method for use by an athlete without medical justification” . During the last week of the race, in 2021, the Bahraini team was raided in Pau. In the fall, leaks had revealed that traces of tizanidine, a powerful muscle relaxant used against multiple sclerosis, but not prohibited by anti-doping regulations, had been found in the hair analyzes of several runners. The team had denied having been informed and the laboratory had not confirmed the identities of the athletes concerned.

Searches at the request of French investigators

“To date, the team has not been informed of the progress of the results or has not received any feedback on the investigation from the Marseille prosecutor’s office,” Bahrain Victorious said earlier this week. , after the first salvo of searches carried out in different countries against its members, regretting “the damage to the reputation of individuals and the team” caused by these police operations.

On Thursday, Danish police confirmed that they acted at the request of French authorities. “Following a request from French police as part of an ongoing investigation in France, we conducted a search of a hotel in Brondby [in the suburbs of Copenhagen],” a spokesperson said, referring to the French investigators for more details.

The Bahrain Victorious formation, one of whose leaders, the Italian Sonny Colbrelli, suffered a cardiorespiratory arrest in March, is led by Milan Erzen, as general manager. The Slovenian was suspected, in 2020, in connection with the Aderlass blood doping case; he then called the accusations “totally false”.

These searches and the suspicions of doping they entail do not prevent Bahrain Victorious from approaching the 109th edition of the Grande Boucle with ambition. “Our goal is to get the team’s first podium in the Tour de France, which we just missed with [Mikel] Landa in 2020,” sporting director and former Slovenian rider Gorazd Stangelj warned this week. With the Slovenian Matej Mohoric, the Belgian Dylan Teuns, the Australian Jack Haig or the Italian Damiano Caruso (second in the Giro 2021) as headliners, the team will also aim for stage victories as in the last edition , where its runners had raised their arms three times.

Saying no longer to comment on the raids, the team said on Thursday that they were “looking forward to focusing on the greatest cycling race in the world”. But from the big start, Friday in Copenhagen, its results will be particularly scrutinized.

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