Chris Froome was unable to savour his historic victory atop Mont Ventoux as he continued to face questions about doping during yesterday’s rest day at the 100th Tour de France.
The yellow jersey holder let his frustrations show for the first time as the questioning intensified in the wake of his stunning display on top of one of the most feared climbs in world cycling.
Although Froome had dealt with the matter calmly during his first week in the maillot jaune, Team Sky’s patience is beginning to wear thin and team principal Dave Brailsford appealed for ideas as to what they could do to answer questions conclusively — suggesting he would open his doors to World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) to come and give their verdict on whether Froome’s results are credible.
Yesterday’s press conference made for a depressing spectacle only hours after Froome put in a scintillating display on Ventoux to extend his overall lead in the Tour.
“I just think it’s quite sad that we’re sitting here the day after the biggest victory of my life, a historic win, talking about doping,” Froome said.
“My team-mates and I have been away from home for months training together and working our arses off to get here, and here I am accused of being a cheat and a liar.”
Froome (pictured) is suffering from the sort of speculation which now attaches itself to anyone who takes the lead in the Tour de France after years of doping scandals.
Last year, his team-mate Bradley Wiggins lost his temper more than once under the same interrogation, and Froome has the sympathy of the peloton — even his main rival in this race, Alberto Contador, the two-time winner who lost his 2010 Tour title for a doping infraction of his own.
“There is no reason to doubt Froome,” Contador said yesterday. “He is a professional rider who has been performing at a really high level all year, and I think his results are the fruits of the work he puts in and nothing else. I fully believe he is clean. That is why the doping controls are there, isn’t it?”
Froome raced away from Contador 7.2 kilometres from the summit of Ventoux on Sunday, and then kicked away from his last remaining challenger on the mountain, Nairo Quintana, just as they passed the memorial to Tom Simpson, the first Briton ever to wear the yellow jersey who died on the climb during the 1967 Tour.
But such a dominating display was soon being compared to those of Lance Armstrong — the American who was stripped of his seven Tour titles for doping — with the insinuation not lost on Froome.
“Lance cheated,” he said. “I’m not cheating. End of story. “I know what I’ve done to get here.”
Today the peloton travel from Vaison-la-Romaine to Gap. Dan Martin is top Irish rider, in 11th place on GC.
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