Chris Froome and Sky team getting used to negativity

AFP| Last Updated: Jul 19, 2015, 15:02 PM IST
Chris Froome and Sky team getting used to negativity

Chris Froome and his British Sky team have resigned themselves to the negative atmosphere surrounding them at the Tour de France.

Ahead of Sunday`s 15th stage from Mende to Valence, Froome and Sky have been getting used to an increasingly hostile enviroment.

Race leader Froome was doused with urine by a spectator on Saturday`s 14th stage while Australian Richie Porte said he was punched by someone on Tuesday`s 10th stage summit finish in the Pyrenees.

"If this is part of the process we have to go through to get the sport to a better place, then I`m here doing it," said Froome defiantly.

Porte alluded to an anti-British, or perhaps simply anti-Sky, feeling on the roads in a Telegraph Cycling Podcast.

"They are so anti-whatever we are. Do I deserve to be booed? Does Chris Froome deserve all this? I don`t think so," said the angry 30-year-old.

"It`s a disgrace how some of these people carry on."

Briton Froome said he felt the animosity from certain quarters and has blamed some journalists for inciting spectators against him and his team.

Froome didn`t name names but there was a hint of an Anglo-French divide.

"With my victory a few days ago and the way the team is riding, there`s been a lot of very irresponsible reporting," said Froome.

"They set that tone and obviously people believe what they read in the media."

There is a theory that having complained for many years that their riders couldn`t compete because they were racing cleanly against doped athletes, the French have struggled to stomach being beaten by their cross-channel cousins in a new era widely regarded to be fair.

That Britain, with almost no road cycling legacy to speak of, has suddenly gatecrashed France`s favourite yearly showcase with the best team and the best riders has stuck in some throats.

Bradley Wiggins won the race in 2012 and Froome followed up that success with his own win a year later.

And with the Kenyan-born 30-year-old dominating this year`s race, jealousy and antipathy seem to be increasing amongst the locals when it comes to Sky.

Not only has Froome`s scintillating stage 10 victory been questioned with suggestions that he`s either taking drugs or using a motorised bike, but the whole team has been under scrutiny.

Porte may be down in 54th overall but he came second in that infamous stage to La Pierre-Saint Martin.

Despite being a talented climber and successful week-long stage racer, many couldn`t accept that on a day when favourites such as Vincenzo Nibali and Alberto Contador cracked, Porte seemed in fine form.

The same goes for Geraint Thomas, not a known stage racer, who is holding onto an improbable sixth place overall, despite working for his team leader.

Thomas, though, has always been considered a versatile talent in British cycling circles.

Sky may be hoping for a respite from the various scandals on Sunday as the 183km stage is likely to end in a bunch sprint, keeping Froome out of the limelight, if only briefly.

It`s one of the last stages before Paris where the likes of Andre Greipel and Mark Cavendish will have a chance to snare another precious victory.