• Team Sky on a training run before the Tour de France start. (Getty)Source: Getty
Sky has downplayed security fears despite a sour reception from French fans in the lead-up to Chris Froome’s Tour de France title defence.
Sophie Smith

Cycling Central
7 Jul 2018 - 7:33 AM 

Froome was jeered and booed at Thursday’s teams’ presentation, days after race organiser ASO tried to disinvite the four-time champion from cycling’s biggest party.

Rival stables were unimpressed by the behaviour of supporters in La Roche-sur-Yon, with Mitchelton-Scott sports director Matt White describing Thursday’s display as “poor form”.

Whether it proves to be a distraction or further impetus to Sky at the 105th edition of the Tour remains to be seen.

Geraint Thomas was also booed at the Critérium du Dauphine, which he won last month.

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The intensified public concern over Team Sky safety comes after a turbulent nine months for Froome, who enters the Tour on the back of victory at the Giro d’Italia and the Vuelta a España.

The UCI on Monday cleared the 33-year-old of doping suspicions pertaining to an adverse analytical finding for asthma drug salbutamol, which he returned at the Vuelta.

Speaking at a pre-race press conference earlier this week, Froome and team principal David Brailsford were both curt when asked multiple questions regarding safety concerns.

“I’ve just come off the back of the Giro d’Italia where things were still undecided at that point. You’d think if there were any problems we would have seen that at the Giro but there weren’t any,” Froome said.

The manner in which Froome’s drawn-out case was closed days out from the Grand Depart drew harsh criticism from international media, which labelled the UCI and WADA’s handling of the affair as farcical.

The UCI on Friday issued a lengthy statement, addressing some of the criticism levelled at the two organisations.

“Mr Froome’s case was closed after a careful review by both WADA and the UCI as well as their respective experts,” the statement read. “The public debate on this case should not overshadow the sport itself, in particular, because the decision taken was the right decision.

“The UCI understands that the public would like to see the specific data expert reports from Mr Froome’s case in order to assess whether WADA and the UCI took the right decision.

“In its capacity as a signatory of the WADA code, the UCI can only say that there are important reasons that WADA does not publish information on its analytical methods and decision limits, the most important being to avoid such information being abused by athletes, who wish to illegitimately enhance their performance.”

Froome has and will be flanked by a bodyguard here at the Tour, while Sky is reportedly increasing its own in-race security.

“We work with the organisers, with ourselves and take appropriate measures,” Brailsford said.

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