By Daniel Benson in Saint Étienne
A car belonging to Johnny Schleck, the father of CSC-Saxo Bank riders Fränk and Andy Schleck, was stopped and searched by French customs officers during Thursday's 196.5-kilometre stage from Bourg d'Oisans to Saint Étienne. Customs chiefs from the region of Isere confirmed two Luxembourg-registered cars were stopped and searched. The second belonged to Luxembourgois journalist René Thill.
A former cycling professional himself, Schleck senior has been at the race working for organisers Amaury Sport Organisation as a driver for VIPs. He, along with his passengers, was stopped 30 kilometres into today's route. It was later confirmed that no doping products or banned substances were found during the search, which took place at Vizille, approximately 20 kilometres south of Grenoble in the Isere region of the Alps.
A longstanding Tour correspondent, Thill was surprised by what had taken place. "I was stopped just before Grenoble by police and customs. They asked if I have any products to declare. I said 'no'. They asked for me to step out of the car and move five metres away. They took everything out of my bags and also looked under the seats."
However it is believed that Schleck's vehicle was taken out of the public's view for a more thorough search.
Bjarne Riis, the CSC-Saxo Bank team manager, was quick to play down the significance of the stop and search. "We heard on the news that he was free to go and that it was nothing. There is no panic and no reason to create one. Let's just stay calm, okay. The police do their job and we do ours."
The team's directeur sportif Scott Sunderland reiterated Riis' sentiments, and went further by suggesting that the search had nothing to do with the team and that it had no bearing on the race. "It was a routine control and I know no more. They looked through the car and what is worse they found nothing in it. He was with VIPs at the time."
When asked whether the episode could have any ramifications on his race, Fränk Schleck was clear headed enough to realise it may have been just a random search. "I don't care too much, it's not going to change anything. It's my dad and he's still my dad, he just works for the Tour. I've yet to talk to him."