The French police have raided the hotel in Pau where cyclist Wout Poels and his teammates from Bahrain Victorious were staying. The reason is a doping test.
It concerns a preliminary investigation aimed at a specific rider. Who that is has not been disclosed.
“It concerns the acquisition, transport, possession and import of a prohibited substance or method of use by a rider who does not have a medical prescription for this,” said the public prosecutor in Marseille. The raid took place on Wednesday evening, after the seventeenth stage in the Tour de France.
“The police came to check everything,” Poels, who comes from Blitterswijck, told NOS before the eighteenth stage. “They have searched everything, I just cooperated. You then get a piece of paper that they have not taken anything.” During the raid, the hotel rooms and team bus were searched, among other things. Data was also seized.
Poels, who as leader of the mountains classification in the Tour has what he says is the most important race day in his life on Thursday, will remember the raid for a while. “I’ve never experienced anything like it, it was a special experience. And now we are here for the mountain jersey.”
Team manager Milan Erzen nuances the attack on Cyclingnews. “It was nothing special. They disturbed the riders for an hour and finally said ‘thank you’. They did not say the reason for their visit. We will find out through our lawyers today.” The team tells L1 that they want to cooperate with all investigations.
The last Pyrenees stage is scheduled for today. Wout Poels and teammates received a police visit in the hotel last night. The reason for this visit is still unknown #TDF2021 pic.twitter.com/kr48cK5RA5
– 1Limburg Sport (@ 1Lsport) July 15, 2021
According to sports director Vladimir Miholjevic, the agents had no official papers to show that they were allowed to search the hotel. “However, we have complied with all requests. We follow all the rules and always work together in a professional manner. This whole process did have an impact on our riders’ recovery and food planning.”
On Thursday, the eighteenth stage takes the Tour peloton through the Pyrenees, from Pau to Luz Ardiden. The riders have to cross two mountains of the fourth category and two mountains of the hors category. The arrival is uphill. Poels has eleven points ahead of yellow jersey wearer Tadej Pogacar in the mountains classification. At the end of the day it is clear who will take the overall victory in the mountains classification.