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Tour de France

Zip it! Matej Mohorič wins stage 19 on rage and watts to silence critics

Two days after French police searched the team hotel of Bahrain-Victorious, Slovenian goes on the attack to send a signal.

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LIBOURNE, France (VN) — Matej Mohorič rode in anger to win Friday’s 19th stage at the Tour de France, and he let everyone know just how mad he was.

The Bahrain-Victorious rider churned his 55×42 crank to his second stage victory in the 2021 Tour, and sent a loud-and-clear message to France’s gendarmerie and everyone else involved in team raids Wednesday night at his team hotel.

His victory salute was a “shush” sign and zipped lips.

“I was thinking mostly about what happened two nights ago, when I was treated like a criminal, with all of the police coming to our hotel,” Mohorič said. “From one point of view, it is a good thing, because there is control of the peloton. They are checking all the teams, of course, they didn’t find anything because we have nothing to have.”

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Some 50 police swooped down on the Bahrain-Victorious hotel on Wednesday evening, searching hotel rooms and team vehicles. Sources told VeloNews that telephones and computers were taken into police custody.

Officials opened a formal inquiry, but no further details were immediately available about what they might be pursuing.

Bahrain-Victorious remained in the Tour peloton, and Mohorič rode into Friday’s breakaway bent on sending a message.

Once clear from a big group, he rode across the finish line with his fingers to his lips, and then pulled them across to send the message of “zip it.”

“It was just a sign to show to people that question our performance to be mindful that we are making huge sacrifices with our work,” Mohorič said of his victory salute. “When they go through your personal photos, photos of your family, through your messages, it was like … eh. At the end of the day, I have nothing to hide.”

Mohorič’s frustrations come as Tadej Pogačar continues to throttle the Tour de France peloton.

A day after being asked about his relationship with UAE-Team Emirates team manager Mauro Gianetti, Pogačar was asked Friday’s during a press conference if he is using illegal wheels or motorized assistance.

Pogačar just shook his head, and said, “I do not know what to say about that.”

Also read: Tadej Pogačar comments on relationship with Mauro Gianetti 

For Mohorič, a stage-hunter far from the overall classification, the rare police raid was a source of frustration.

“Obviously, our integrity has been a little bit questioned with this investigation ongoing,” he said. “But that brought us closer together, us riders and also the team, and we were even more determined to prove that we have nothing to hide. We collaborated fully with the police, and we’re here to focus on the bike race.

“From another point of view, I am disappointed in the system,” he said. “It’s not a nice thing when the police walk into your room, and go through all of your belongings, and even when you have nothing to hide, it feels a little bit weird. It never happened to me before.”