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Froome is back on the defensive over lead

By Matt McGeehan

Chris Froome once again issued a robust defence of his strong performances as the Tour de France headed towards the Alps, where the race will be won.

The Team Sky rider maintained his lead of three minutes 10 seconds over nearest challenger Nairo Quintana (Movistar) after the 15th stage from Mende to Valence, won by Andre Greipel (Lotto-Soudal).

Froome had urine thrown over him and was called a 'doper' on Saturday's 14th stage and felt "irresponsible" reporters and television pundits were culpable for the hostile reception from roadside spectators, which has also seen Team Sky riders booed and spat at. The 30-year-old was asked again about the incident on Sunday as the peloton traversed southern France towards the Alps, where four stages will take place next week.

"Times have changed. Everyone knows that," said Froome, referring to riders from the drug-riddled era.

"This isn't the Wild West that it was 10, 15 years ago. Of course there are still going to be riders who take risks (with performance-enhancing drugs) in this day and age, but they are the minority.

"There is no reason in this day and age for that level or suspicion to continue.

"I don't see what else I can do, other than speak up about it and plead with people to make up their own minds about our performances and not listen to, particularly, ex-riders who are part of this generation and only knew one way of cycling."

Belfast Telegraph


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