'We're still having to justify ourselves' - Froome on Lance Armstrong era damage

The Lance Armstrong era damaged cycling so much, pro riders are still having to justify themselves despite the sport cleaning up its act, Chris Froome said in an Instagram interview with former cricketer Kevin Pietersen.

Chris Froome

Chris Froome at the Saitama Criterium Source: Getty / Getty Images

In the informal chat last night (AEST), when Pietersen asked how many years did Froome believe Lance Armstrong 'messed up' cycling for, the four-time Tour de France champion said pro cyclists are still paying for the damage.  

"We’re still having to justify ourselves," Froome said.

"It’s 15 years on at least, and we’re still talking about it."
"It did a lot of damage. That era has damaged the sport to a great extent but I do really believe that the sport has turned the page.

"I don’t think that I could have won the Tour de France four times if it hadn’t changed. I think the sport is in a great place now,” he said.

Pietersen referred to a previous offline chat with Froome about why pro cyclists are now climbing iconic mountains faster than riders from that infamous era, and the Team Ineos rider shared his explanation. 

"As a sport we’ve evolved so much in terms of technology and nutrition and ways of training. As athletes, we’re probably better than they we were 15 years ago.

"Having said that, I don’t think that our ability to recover is the way it was back then. Using whatever it was to manipulate their blood back then would have meant that they could have done that day in day out.

"Now we’ll have one massive stage and you can visibly see that there’s a change in pace for the next two to three days. The whole group needs to go slower.”

Froome also shared a story from his early years as a pro about an eye-opening experience with doping.

"I turned pro in 2008 and I thought it was a good time," he said. "I thought that the crazy years were behind us. 

"But I got the shock of my life when I was 23 and was put into the Tour de France. I couldn't believe what was going on. Guys were being pulled out of the race for doping.

"One of my own team mates, a Spanish guy, who sat just across on the team bus from me was marched away in handcuffs."

But Froome said he believes the biological passport has had a "huge impact" in cleaning up the sport. 

In the wide-ranging chat with Pietersen which also covered his rehabilitation from last year's harrowing injuries, Froome expressed his concerns about crowds if the Tour de France goes ahead in late August. 

"You're not going to get the same scenes as you'd get going through tunnels of people everywhere," he said. "But  mabe that's the version of the race we need to see this year. 

"In theory, we can put the race on, but the bigger question is, would the organisers be able to keep people from coming out and gathering in large crowds."
After discussing Ineos' Tour de France leadership selection including the team's two-pronged Plan A and back-up plan approach, Pietersen asked Froome what would happen if he was asked to hold back for Bernal if Froome ws stronger. 

"That’s where it starts to get complicated and you can have a bit of grey area but the team does have a pretty good idea on everyone’s strength," Froome said. 

"We’ve got power meters on our bikes measuring every pedal stroke. Before we go into the race the team will have a good idea of where we are all at and who has the best chance of winning.

"We all get on well. You see on some teams that the leaders literally don’t speak to each other and that can be toxic in some cases. We get on well though and we’ll make it work.”

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Published 4 May 2020 at 11:28am