Fans must respect the yellow jersey, Tour de France race director Christian Prudhomme insisted Sunday after race leader Chris Froome complained that a spectator had thrown urine over him.
Team Sky`s Froome said he had been doused with urine by a roadside spectator on Saturday`s 14th stage while Australian teamate Richie Porte said he was punched by someone on Tuesday`s 10th stage summit finish in the Pyrenees.
"The behaviour of certain spectators, a minority obviously, is evidently intolerable," Prudhomme said before the start of the 15th stage from Mende to Valence.
"Insulting the integrity of the yellow jersey is unacceptable."
Prudhomme said, however, that a dislike for the Tour leader was not new.
"The top racer has never been liked in the history of the Tour de France. It was true with Jacques Anquetil, it was true with Eddy Merckx, and it`s being repeated now. But there must be a minimum of respect," he said.
"There`s a sort of frustration that many people have had for several days concerning Chris Froome`s striking, outstanding victory in the first Pyreanean stage, and the fact that those who were slated as his rivals weren`t up to the mark.
"This frustration is worsened by the fact that the French riders we were hoping would do something were even further back, and it is then compounded by comments of certain experts or `pseudo-experts` who ensure that newspapers, radio stations and television are full of doubts and suspicions," he said, noting "the large, senseless difference in recent days between what was happening on the ground and what one reads and hears elsewhere".
Prudhomme added: "I condemn the stigmatisation around the yellow jersey and I condemn above all incidents that have happened over the last few days.
"Yes, we must respect the yellow jersey. Thanks to the supporters, the vast majority who do respect it."
Froome and his British Sky team have said they have resigned themselves to the negative atmosphere surrounding them on the Tour, with a particularly ferocious backlash in the media.
"There`s obviously a correlation between what is said in newspapers, on the television and radio and what happens along the route," Prudhomme continued.
"There was a time delay up until these last 48 hours between what was written, what people read everywhere, and the reality of the people lining the route, as always very nice.
"Of course, and it`s a former journalist speaking here, what we write or what we say has an influence on the weakest-minded which can then lead to unacceptable behaviour."