Irish fans dismiss suggestions of abuse towards Team Sky

Irish cycling fans have reacted strongly to claims they abused members of Team Sky during last Thursday’s 18th stage of the Tour de France to Alpe d’Huez.

Irish fans dismiss suggestions of abuse towards Team Sky

Journalist David Walsh, who is renowned for his crusading work in exposing drug cheat Lance Armstrong, wrote how Irish fans abused Team Sky riders and officials as they made their way to the summit finish on that particular stage.

Walsh’s article, “Why I Believe In Chris Froome” in The Sunday Times, included references to an anti-Sky feeling amongst cycling supporters that stretched, he claims, to fans putting the Sky team under “siege” and involved eggs and beer cans being thrown at team vehicles as they drove up the climb.

“The abuse was worst at those parts of the climb populated by Irish and Dutch fans,” Walsh stated.

He went on to state that one of the bigger banners on “Irish Corner” — where around 900 Irish fans congregated — read “Froome Dope”.

However, this banner was in fact, placed there by a small group of French fans who were later seen posing for pictures beside it.

Walsh, last year’s British journalist of the year, also wrote how a four-man group of fans from the Lakeside Cycling Club in Mullingar found Team Sky Principal David Brailsford and apologised for the conduct of their countrymen.

However, when contacted, one of that four, who wishes to remain nameless, said that was utterly untrue as he stressed they had nothing to apologise for.

“This statement is completely inaccurate and it is our experience that it has been interpreted by several people that the four of us were in some way involved in the unsavoury events which Mr Walsh alleges took place,” said the spokesperson for the Mullingar club.

“Yes, we did speak to Dave Brailsford, the principal director of Team Sky, but we did not look for him as is implied in Mr Walsh’s quote and we did not say sorry to him or any other person.

“We met Mr Brailsford on the street and in the course of having our photo taken with him he mentioned the abuse of Team Sky on the Alpe.

“We informed him of fighting between the French and English and he actually thanked us for explaining this.

“However, he did state that some Irish fans gave the thumbs down symbol and booed the Sky team.”

The spokesperson added: “We informed him we could not comment on this as none of the four of us witnessed any Irish fan act in any way negatively towards any rider, official or vehicle from any team on the Alpe or elsewhere,” he added.

David Walsh was unavailable for comment last night.

More in this section

Sport Newsletter

Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up