The incident happened with 16.5km to go, not too long before Froome made the break of the day at the top of the Col de Peyresourde and descended on his top tube to claim the Stage 8 spoils.
A Colombian fan, dressed in a national soccer team jersey and a feathered, yellow wig, was cheering on Nairo Quintana (Movistar), who was riding just in front of Froome at the time. The incident was caught on TV cameras, which clearly showed Froome hitting the spectator out of the way with his left arm and stopping him in his tracks. It sparked immediate outrage.
The Sky rider and defending champion has been fined 200 Swiss Francs ($269 AUD) by race officials for “incorrect behaviour”.
Froome immediately apologised after the stage on Twitter, in English and Spanish. He explained that what the TV cameras couldn’t see was that the spectator was carrying a flag that looked like it would cause a very damaging crash.
In a press conference after the race Froome provided further clarification of the incident and urged fans not to run so close to riders on the roads.
"I have nothing against the Colombian fans. I think they’re fantastic and bring a great atmosphere to the race. But this guy in particular was running right next to my handlebars,” said Froome.
“He had a flag that was flying behind him. It was just getting dangerous, so I pushed him away. I lashed out and pushed him away.
"It’s fantastic having so many fans out on the road but please, please, I urge the fans: don’t try and run with the riders. It gets really dangerous for the guys behind you."
This is not the first time Froome has had an altercation with hyped spectators. Someone threw a cup of urine on him in the 2015 Tour, accusing the Kenyan-born Brit of doping.
“I have no doubt people out there will already be calculating my VAM (velocity ascended meters per hour) going down that last climb and saying that it was off the charts,” said Froome, joking.
“I’ve never won a stage like that,” he added. “It really did feel like just taking the race home and enjoying it.”