Fred Wright is a young man with a promising future in the sport of cycling. He finished seventh at this year's Tour of Flanders, and is embarking on his second Tour de France. This should be an exciting time for him, proving his mettle for his WorldTour team on the biggest stage in cycling.
And yet. Last Thursday, his Bahrain Victorious team hotel was raided by police the day before the start of the Tour. It followed some of its riders and staff members having had their homes searched by police prior to their departure last week - Wright was not one of them. In 2021, Bahrain also had their Tour hotel searched by police late in the race.
That's two Tours de France, and two experiences of waking up to welcome police into his room.
“It’s a tricky one,” Wright explained to Cycling Weekly and Cycling Tips. “As a 23-year-old rider I don’t think I should have experienced two police raids in my career but that’s the unfortunate truth of it.
“It was a surprise but I saw Jack [Haig] already say the Danish police were really friendly, they were doing what they had to do, it didn’t take very long. 30-45 minutes searching around the room and then they were out of our hair."
The team said in a statement on Thursday morning that "the search was completed within two hours" and that "no items were seized from the team." Reports later that week suggested things were taken, but this might have been in the searches earlier that week.
“In the end it wasn’t that bad,” Wright explained. “They came in the morning, I went back to sleep, it felt like a bit of a bad dream. It is what it is thanks to the history of the sport that we’re in this position."
For now, Bahrain Victorious and Wright are just focusing on the here and now, which is just continuing with the Tour de France.
“If they want to go through these raids just to confirm that everyone’s clean then that’s what they’ve got to do. It’s been really nice that the morale has slowly been creeping up in the team because we’re racing our bikes now, we’re doing our job so happy days.”
The 23-year-old is not thinking of challenging for stage wins just yet, instead focusing on helping out his team.
"We'll see how this first week goes," he said. "I think this first week is really important for us, just to focus on getting our GC leaders out of trouble, unscathed. That's the main goal for the first few days. Then after that, we'll see if the bunch de stresses and everyone gets a bit more relaxed. The focus is on these stressful days."
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