Matej Mohoric took a second superb stage victory of the 2021 Tour de France as he soloed to victory on Stage Nineteen, but the Slovenian’s mimed shush and zipped lips celebration
Coming in the wake of a raid on the hotel of Bahrain Victorious, Mohoric’s team, by police in Pau earlier this week, the Slovenian’s demonstrations as he crossed the finish line in Libourne were a pointed reference.
Referring to the police’s investigation, Mohoric said after his second victory of a fine Tour for the Slovenian: “I’m a little bit disappointed with the system because it is not a nice thing when the police walk into your room and start searching your belongings.
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Of course, they didn’t find anything because we have nothing to hide.
“When they go through your personal photos, photos of your family, through your phone and through your messages...it’s a little bit weird. At the end of the day I’ve got nothing to hide. I don’t care too much.”
The zipped lips gesture also bore a striking resemblance to similar movements by Lance Armstrong at the height of the American’s career, at the time an apparent reference to the omerta that existed among the peloton regarding doping.
Stage 19 Highlights - Mohoric steals the show as Cavendish has to wait
Armstrong most famously used the gesture towards Fliippo Simeoni during the 2004 Tour de France after joining a breakaway while in the race leader’s yellow jersey, refusing to let the group escape the peloton if Simeoni was part of the move after a long-running feud that included the Italian suing the American after Armstrong called him a “liar” in an interview with Le Monde.
After years of speculation, the American admitted in 2013 that he had doped throughout much of his cycling career, having been stripped of his seven Tour de France General Classification wins.
Bahrain Victorious confirmed that French police had raided the hotel rooms of the team on Wednesday night, with phones, computers and rider training data reported to have been taken.
It has also been reported that prosecutors have opened a preliminary investigation into allegations of doping.
Mohoric also took victory on Stage 7 of the race, while teammate Dylan Teuns followed his lead by claiming a brilliant solo win on Stage 8.
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The team have enjoyed a productive year, with Mark Padun a surprise winner of the final two stages at the Criterium du Dauphine, and Damiano Caruso achieving a career best finish of second overall at the Giro d’Italia.
Stage 19 had been anticipated as one for the sprinters but a number of early crashes and a tired peloton after a week in the Pyrenees meant a large breakaway was allowed to get away to contest victory.
A strong group including potential bunch sprint favourites like Christophe Laporte, seeking a first Tour de France victory for Cofidis in 13 years, and Milan-San Remo winner Jasper Stuyven escaped up the road, but it was Mohoric who provided the telling attack, breaking free from the rest of the group and eventually winning by nearly a minute.
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The result continued an excellent tour for Slovenia, with Mohoric’s compatriot Tadej Pogacar all but assured to step out on to the podium in Paris on Sunday having defended his crown.
With no major changes to the General Classification picture, Pogacar, who leads Jonas Vingegaard by nearly six minutes, must only now negotiate Saturday’s time trial through the wine country near Saint-Emilion before Sunday’s largely ceremonial final stage in Paris.7
Mohoric’s victory means that Mark Cavendish will have to wait until then to try and secure a record-breaking 35th Tour de France stage victory, with the Deceuninck-Quick Step sprinter afforded an ideal opportunity to move past Eddy Merckx as the Tour’s leading stage-winner in history with victory on the Champs-Elysées.
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