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Sky's Tour de France leader Chris Froome hits back at his critics

By Matt McGeehan

Chris Froome fended off attacks on and off the bike to maintain his commanding Tour de France lead in yesterday's stormy final Pyrenean stage.

The 30-year-old's Team Sky squad, with Richie Porte and Geraint Thomas to the fore, successfully nullified attempted attacks by Alberto Contador, Vincenzo Nibali and Nairo Quintana on the 195-kilometres 12th stage from Lannemezan to Plateau de Beille.

Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) won as Froome finished 10th alongside the main protagonists, protecting his advantage of two minutes 52 seconds from Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing) on a stage which finished in torrential rain.

Froome has been subjected to innuendo and disparaging remarks following his dominant display on Tuesday's win at La Pierre-Saint-Martin and rounded on his critics yesterday.

Among those pondering the legitimacy of Froome's performances - and he insists he is racing clean - are French commentators Laurent Jalabert and Cedric Vasseur, two former riders who both have their own historical questions to answer from an era where doping was rife.

"It's quite rich coming from cyclists like Jalabert and Vasseur to be commenting on my racing in such a way. I think it's really disappointing," the 2013 champion said.

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