• (l-r) Team Sky's Richie Porte, Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas ride on during Stage 14 of the Tour de France (AP Photo) (AP)Source: AP
Team Sky was left fuming after Stage 14 of the Tour de France as yellow jersey wearer Chris Froome reported having a cup of urine thrown at him during the race by a man yelling "doper" at him.
By
Cycling Central

19 Jul 2015 - 7:28 AM  UPDATED 19 Jul 2015 - 7:55 AM

The incident comes less than a week after Froome's Australian team-mate Richie Porte was apparently punched by a spectator during Tuesday’s Stage 10.

"Obviously a bit of a dampener for me, a spectator about 50 to 60 kilometres into the race threw a cup of urine over me, shouting 'dope'," Froome said after Stage 14.

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"It's unacceptable on so many levels. We're professionals, we work really hard for what we do and for someone to come and do that, it's not what we're here for."

Porte yesterday revealed he’d received a “full-on punch” from a spectator on the climb to Saint Pierre-Martin in Stage 10, won by Froome and igniting the doping debate once again.

But Porte told SBS after Stage 14 he was still being hounded on Saturday by “hundreds of Frenchman giving you a piece of their mind”.

“It’s not how we’re brought up in Australia, to come and boo like this,” the Tasmanian said.

“We’re on the limit doing our jobs. It’s a disgrace, really. But that’s what comes with the yellow jersey. Some of the things that have been happening to us, it’s really not nice.

“The best thing for Froomey now is to win this race. That’ll really piss them off.”

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It was always going to happen. Not long after Chris Froome’s imperious climb to victory atop the summit of La Pierre-Saint-Martin on Stage 10 of the Tour de France, the question marks over his staggering performance began appearing like the dark clouds of a rolling storm.

Rider safety fears

Team Sky principles have told race organiser ASO they are concerned for the safety of their riders, who have been in dominant form through the race, leading to questions in some sections of the media over the legitimacy of their squad.

Indeed Froome blamed “irresponsible reporting” for the bad behaviour of local spectators after a week in which his performances in particular, not least after Stage 10, have been thrown into question by some ex-professionals acting as media pundits.

"I would blame some of the reporting on the race, it's very irresponsible,” Froome said. “Those individuals know who they are. It's not all media. A lot of the reporting has been fantastic. It's been about the race, as it should be.

"But with my victory a few days ago (on Stage 10), and the way the team is riding, there's been a lot of very irresponsible reporting.

"It's not riders bringing the sport into disrepute. It's certain individuals, and they know who they are."

Another Sky rider, Geraint Thomas, singled out Michael Rasmussen as an irresponsible journalist.

Ex-professional Rasmussen, who himself wore the yellow jersey at the Tour and turned the 2007 race into a farce when he was fired by his Rabobank team for flouting “internal rules”, has questioned performances within the Sky team in his current role as a media pundit, barely two years since confessing to doping through his own career.

Thomas slammed the Dane, calling his credibility into question.

“People like Michael Rasmussen, they know no other way. They’re cheats and they always will be cheats. They can’t see a good ride as just a good ride,” the Welshman said.

“If a tennis player plays really well or a footballer plays really well, it’s like ‘Oh, he’s a great athlete’, it’s not like ‘Oh yes, he’s cheating’.

“Guys like that (Rasmussen), I mean what’s he even doing here? It’s a shame the media give him a voice as well, you know.”

Twitter spat

Froome’s wife, Michelle, made a brief reappearance on Twitter over the weekend to add her voice to the debate, calling out two other drug-tainted media pundits, Laurent Jalabert and Cedric Vasseur, both working for French television, among other controversial figures, including former Festina coach Antoine Vayer.

She tweeted: “@JalabertLaurent @cedvasseur @lequipe @festinaboy @scienceofsport I hope you're paying attention. Ignorant, irresponsible fools.”

Vayer responded.

He was handed a swift reply.

@festinaboy and the trolling continues, now with his pregnant wife, bravo, do you want a trophy???

Vayer told her to “calm herself, please” in a subsequent tweet, and not long after, the @michellefroome account had again been disabled.

Regardless of all the controversy, Sky will ride on, and Thomas said while the team was loved last year when in a losing position, he’d rather be where he is now, ahead of the main field.

“If people want to boo me, I don’t give a shit. But it’s when they start hitting you that’s wrong. They loved us last year when we were losing, but I’d rather be winning and get booed than be where we were last year.”

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