Chris Froome slams 'unacceptable' behaviour as fan drenches Tour de France leader in urine
Published 18/07/2015 | 18:22
Chris Froome was drenched in urine and called a "doper" in extending his Tour de France lead - before he hit out at irresponsible coverage of his dominant performance.
The 30-year-old Team Sky leader was assaulted on stage 14 from Rodez to Mende, which was won by fellow Briton Steve Cummings (MTN-Qhubeka).
Froome, who now leads by three minutes 10 seconds from Nairo Quintana (Movistar), has no doubts he was the target after being subjected to innuendo and abuse since winning Tuesday's 10th stage to La Pierre-Saint-Martin in stunning fashion.
The 2013 champion insists he is a clean rider.
"There was a bit of a dampener on today's stage for me," Froome said.
"It was on a drag about 50, 60 kilometres into the race. I had some team-mates around me, they also saw the incident.
"I was boxed in a little bit on the left, so I couldn't move away from it.
"I saw this guy just peering around - it looked a bit strange - and as I got there he just launched this cup towards me and said 'doper'. There's no mistake it was urine.
"That's unacceptable on so many different levels. We're professionals, we work extremely hard to do what we do and for someone to come and disrespect us like that, that's not on.
"That's not in the name of sport. That's not why we're here."
Froome believes elements of the reporting on the race are responsible for the reaction to his Team Sky squad's display.
He added: "With my victory a few days ago, the way the team has been riding, there has been a lot of very irresponsible reporting out there. That's unacceptable.
"It's no longer the riders who are bringing the sport into disrepute now. It's those individuals and they know who they are."
Froome was not prepared to name names, but his wife Michelle took to Twitter, directing a message at five Twitter handles.
"I hope you're paying attention. Ignorant, irresponsible fools," she wrote, before deleting the message.
She added: "This is not what sport is about. Completely disgusted.
"To the journalists pleading that it's 'their job'. It's your job to report on the facts and not the opinions of biased individuals."
Froome blamed a small minority for both the reporting and the public reaction.
"It's the tone that's set by some of the irresponsible people reporting on the race," he said.
"People believe what they see in the media. I certainly want to stress that it really is a minority of people out there.
"Unfortunately it's a few individuals who are ruining it for everyone else."
Froome finished 20th on the stage, four minutes and 15 seconds behind Cummings but, significantly, one second ahead of Quintana.
The Colombian climber is now his nearest challenger after Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing) conceded 40secs to Froome on the stage, falling 3:32 adrift.
The stage was played out through the stunning scenery of the Tarn Valley and stifling heat and with Team Sky's riders again subject to abuse.
Australian Richie Porte revealed he had been punched by a roadside spectator in the Pyrenees on the ascent to La Pierre-Saint-Martin on Tuesday.
Fans are in such close proximity at the Tour that incidents have happened across the 102 editions of the race. Mark Cavendish alleged he was soaked in urine in 2013.
There have also been threats made on social media towards Team Sky and Froome, although it is difficult to gauge how serious these are.
Froome insisted he was unaware of reports Team Sky had asked for heightened security and was adamant nothing would distract him from his focus on the race.
"What can I do? I can get angry. I'd rather keep my composure and stay focused on the race," Froome said.
"I'm not scared about this. I just hope it doesn't interfere with the racing.
"I'm staying extremely focused on my job that I'm here to do. I'm not going to let anything throw me off this year."
It was a successful day on the bike for Froome, who believes Quintana is his most likely rival for top spot on the podium a week on Sunday as the race heads towards the Alps.
He added: "I didn't really see what happened behind me today. I was just focused on Nairo.
"Nairo seems to be the biggest threat to me at this stage (but) I don't think we can write off any of the guys in the top 10 or so."