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Tour de France

Bahrain Victorious abruptly ends Tour de France press conference as investigation rumbles on

Press conference lasts less than 10 minutes after team refuses to answer questions about police searches ahead of the start of the Tour.

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Less than eight minutes.

That’s how long the Bahrain Victorious press conference lasted Thursday ahead of the Tour de France after team officials refused to answer questions about a current investigation after a second round of raids was carried out Thursday morning at their team hotel in Copenhagen.

In fact, the riders attending, Jack Haig and Matej Mohorič alongside performance manager Vladimir Miholjević, faced a total of three questions after Miholjević opened up proceedings to state that the team would not comment further on the fact that Danish police — at the request of the French authorities — awoke the entire team at 5.30 a.m. to search their rooms.

Also read: Bahrain Victorious respond to pre-Tour de France raids: ‘We sleep like babies, we work like horses’

The latest raids came just three days after several staff members and riders had their homes searched by Europol.

Damiano Caruso, who is at the Tour but did not attend the press conference, confirmed on Thursday morning to Cyclingnews that his home was one of those searched by Europol.

The team stated that the 2022 raids are linked to the ongoing investigation that was launched into the squad during last year’s Tour. Last year, 50 police officers descended on the team hotel in Pau, with medicines, laptops and phones all seized.

No charges have been made and the team has denied any wrong-doing, but with the Tour less than a day away, the team is facing questions it refuses to answer.

Miholjević opened the press conference by saying, “we would like to share more information about the investigation but we have nothing more to say than was already said in our press release.

“We’d like to have more details from the investigators so we can understand such action,” he said. “At this moment the team is fully focused on the biggest cycling race in front of us and on achieving our goals over the next three weeks. Matej Mohorič and Jack Haig will only be answering about cycling and the race itself.”

After stating that the team would not face questions about the investigation, a Belgian journalist then asked what impact the early morning searches on the team would have on their Tour. That was batted away by Miholjević.

There were no further questions from those in the press room.

VeloNews then asked via Zoom how confident the team were that the investigators would not turn up any wrong-doing.

That question was also rebuffed with a reminder that the team would only talk about the race.

“As we just said the guys won’t be answering any questions about the investigation. If you have any questions about the race, please go ahead,” a spokesperson for the team said.

VeloNews responded by asking how confident the team were that they would start the Tour.

Mohorič, wearing a face mask as part of the protocols, appeared to show both laughter and surprise before that question was also unanswered by the riders. Jack Haig simply said “you can answer that” in the direction of those with him.

“Look, we have no reason to doubt on that,” Miholjević said.

With no further questions from the press room or those on the Zoom call the event was quickly wrapped up.

Earlier in the week Miholjević had been far more forthcoming when it came to answers.

“We’re sleeping like babies and working like horses. We’re showing everything through our results and we are 100 percent transparent,” he told VeloNews after the first set of raids.

“Someone who is interested to see how we are working can join our team for a period of time and maybe these people will understand the effort that staff and riders are putting in their jobs to achieve their results.”

Europol were not available for comment on Thursday.

When contacted by VeloNews on Wednesday a spokesperson for the agency would only state that “the action is ongoing and there’s nothing that we can say.”