Chris Froome (Sky) wanted to celebrate an historic Mont Ventoux win and the Tour de France’s yellow on the rest day today in Orange, but instead defended himself against doping accusations.

“I think it’s quite sad that the day after the biggest victory of my life we’re talking about doping,” Froome said.

“We’ve slept on volcanoes, been away from homes from months, working our asses off to get ready for this… and here I am, basically being accused of being a cheat and a liar – that’s not cool.”

Froome spoke clearly to the 100 or so journalists packed into the conference room at the Park Inn. The performance was as precise, if not as thrilling, as his Mont Ventoux win.

He became the first Briton to win the Tour’s legendary Mont Ventoux stage yesterday. He went two for two in the Tour’s summit finishes, adding Mont Ventoux to an equally dominant performance up Ax 3 Domaines last Saturday.

As his lead grows, though, so does the doping debate. After years of scandals, with Lance Armstrong losing his seven Tour titles over the winter, some fans have a hard time putting their faith into a new champion.

Froome yesterday answered a question about fans comparing him to Armstrong. He said simply, “I’m going to take that as a compliment.”

He answered more bluntly today.

“I am not quite sure if I said I was honoured [to be compared to Armstrong]. I would only take it only as a compliment, because of how he won it,” Froome explained. “Lance Armstrong won those races; that aside, to compare me with him… Lance Armstrong cheated, I am not cheating… end of story.”

Froome leads the Tour de France by 4-14 minutes over Dutchman Bauke Mollema (Belkin). It seems a given he will win in Paris, but that is what everyone thought last Saturday night. The next day to Bagnères-de-Bigorre, rival teams isolated Froome and pushed team-mate Richie Porte well out of his second place in the overall classification.

He would love to talk about how he will defend himself in the coming stages, like Alpe d’Huez. However, he and team principal, David Brailsford spent half of the allotted 15 minutes answering questions about power output, doping and Armstrong comparisons.

“It’s a rest day, it’s 10 o’clock in the morning; and I am trying to defend someone who’s done nothing wrong,” Brailsford said. “You tell me, what could we do so we wouldn’t have answer the same question over and over?”

Brailsford’s idea is not to share SRM and power data with the public, but with the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). He said that he would support all teams sharing their data with the agency so that it could augment the current biological passport.

“We’ve looked at the biological passport, which should also include weight and power, not just blood values, we’d actually encourage WADA to appoint an expert,” he continued. “We’d let them have all of our data, have access to everything we have.”

It would not completely silence the critics, but it would give them more confidence in Froome and Sky’s dominance, and it might also allow Froome a bit more time to enjoy his rest day and the yellow jersey.

Related links



Chris Froome: Rider profile



Tour de France 2013, coverage index

 

  • Graeme

    You talk of ‘British arrogance’ and ‘naivety’ Robert but seem totally oblivious to your own!!
    First of all I wasn`t comparing English football fans with French football fans…I was comparing them with French cycling fans.
    I also find you extremely condescending and opinionated about your fellow countrymen.
    Firstly,we are not all ‘newcomers’ to the sport as you so sneeringly put it. I rode my first 10 and 25 mile TT`s as a 16 year old in 1976 and bought my first road bike( a Dura-Ace equipped 531 TI RALEIGH) the following year. There as ALWAYS been a passionate following of bike sport in this country,we are not new to the game as you,or ‘the French’ seem to think! Obviously though the sport in this country is now huge compared to what it was in the 1970s/80s/90s. It is wrong though to assume there was never a bike culture here though…there was but it was much smaller.
    We have always produced excellent cyclists in this country (which continentals assume we haven`t) but we never had the money or the infrastructure in place to allow them to flourish on a larger stage. Guys had to do what Tom Simpson and a few other brave souls did in the 1950s and 60s…save a bit of money,pack their jobs in and head ..out to the continent in search of fame and fortune! Sadly very few were prepared to do that,so we just developed our own insular sport within this island. I can still remember Eddy Merckx coming over here in 1977(at the end of his career) and racing against British pro`s and being beaten by my boyhood hero,Sid Barras. At the end Merckx was very complimentary about a lot of the British riders that day,but said ‘you need to go to Europe because British cycling is too insular’.
    Lastly though I would just like to add that I don`t think most British fans are naive or have ‘blinkered incomprehension’ regarding Froome or SKY…but maybe in Britain we aren`t quite prepared to hang,draw and quarter a guy, or a team until we have evidence. In that respect there seems to be a cultural difference between us and ‘The French’….

  • Robert

    Thanks Graeme, for eloquently illustrating my point about blinkered, arrogant British attitudes. You say, “In some ways I compare France and it`s cycling fans with England,it`s football teams and it`s football fans. ” First mistake. You can’t even really compare the attitudes of British and French football fans! For one ‘The French’ don’t generally associate themselves with national teams as do the British and Americans. Whereas Brits generally say things like ‘WE played well’, the French would say something like ‘THEY played well’. Sure, ‘The French’ would like to see a French winner of the Tour, but seeing a home winner has never been the primary motivation of ‘The French’ for watching the Tour. In general, they would much rather see a worthy winner, one who wins with ‘panache’, whatever their nationality, than a home winner whose victory was uninspiring or calculating. This in part reflects the ongoing influence of influence of De Coubertin on French attitudes to sport. “The most important thing… is not winning but taking part; the essential thing in life is not conquering but fighting well” and all that. Unfortunately many from an ‘Anglo-Saxon’ ‘Winning isn’t the most important thing, it’s everything’ background find this hard to understand. There is also the fact that, these days, the vast majority of the French couldn’t care less about the Tour, least of all who wins it, with the number one reason that people in France watch the Tour being to see the helicopter shots of the scenery. You should also see how sceptical ‘The French are about French riders who perform way above expectations! And no I am not French, I am British. However, I have lived in France long enough to have some idea how they think and you are simply wrong. Unfortunately, you are not alone and I sure that this is partly because many British cycling fans are newcomers, for whom the primary attraction of the Tour is that it offers the spectacle of seeing ‘Plucky Brits’ give ‘Johnny foreigner’ or, even better, ‘The French’ a ‘good thrashing’. It was just the same, with the same level of blinkered incomprehension, when American fans were following the dope-fuelled exploits of Armstrong.

  • Graeme

    “And of course ‘The French’ think that Froome’s performance is questionable, it is!”

    Robert(or is it ‘Robear’?)…are you French because that comment looks like it comes straight from the forums on L`Equipe?!
    I`ve already stated that I really don`t know if Froome is clean,but being British myself obviously I like to think so. I may yet be proved wrong though in the future.
    The point I was making though was that ‘The French’ seem to delight in calling into question the scruples of British riders, or teams and riders from ‘Anglo-Saxon’ countries,when really they themselves have let us call it a ‘chequered history’ regarding doping! There`s nothing worse than a born-again Christian!
    A lot of this though in my opinion is down to pure jealousy at their failure to produce another great champion. The longer they go without a TDF winnner the more desperate and vindictive they become.
    In some ways I compare France and it`s cycling fans with England,it`s football teams and it`s football fans. We both think that because we invented the sports we have a God-given right to be the best at them Well I`ve got news for you…we haven`t!! The French seem to be still trying to produce champions the way they have produced them for 100 years. The problem is that cycling is now a global sport and it`s moved on MASSIVELY from where it was 30 years ago,when French champions were to found everywhere. Science and technology have made huge leaps in this sport,but ‘The French’ seem more reluctant than most to accept change.
    In England ,with football ,we seem to be the same and seem to have an uncoordinated,archaic system where we expect natural talent and English stiff upper lip and willpower to triumph..it won`t. Barcelona and Spain are playing football from a different planet to us!
    Until France with cycling and England with football admit that we`ve got it wrong we will continue to produce also-rans…

  • milton

    I suggest Kevin acquaints himself with Bradley Wiggins comments during last years tour .they almost certainly apply to him .

  • Robert

    Andrew W wrote: “Dave Brailsford has previously said that Froome’s power output was always phenomenal and the mystery was why he didn’t win as much as the figures would suggest he should.” And yet in the article ‘Inside the mind of Dave Brailsford’, published in Cycle Sport magazine in May 2011, Brailsford had Froome (CF) down as the weakest rider in the team and in his ‘borderline’ category. With regards to his power output, a far more credible estimate has been provided by the Science of Sport people, who have his output at between 6.3 and 6.5 W/kg, right up there with Armstrong, Pantani and co. And of course ‘The French’ think that Froome’s performance is questionable, it is! Given his ‘extra-terrestrial’ performances and the history of the sport only someone blinkered by naivety or patriotic fervour would think otherwise. Who knows what Sky are up to? Perhaps they did learn something from their old doctor and acknowledged doping meister, Geert Leinders, after all. Perhaps they have moved way beyond ‘old school’ blood doping and are focusing on somehow ‘recalibrating’ the brain’s ‘Central governor’, so allowing their riders to work much harder before the brain shuts the body down via ‘fatigue’. It might even be that they have no ‘secret’ at all. In which case it is sad that they are having to deal with the aftermath of Armstrong’s poisonous legacy.

  • Harv

    Good to see majority of positive and sensible comments here. Seems to be a lot of trolls determined to accuse with zero evidence on other sites. melcfromfinsburypark makes a really good comment. I think his comments make sense.

    I had the feeling this was the case that Froome looked so good because others were nowhere near how they have been before. The difficult questions should be asked of them, i.e. how come your Mont Ventoux is nothing compared to when you were last here? As I understand it on Mont Ventoux in 2009 Wiggo (not quite at his best yet) did the mountain about 40 odd seconds slower than Froome the other day. So in his 2012 form he would probably have come in very close behind Froome on Sunday. To me that puts it into perspective a bit more.
    Great to see Froome win it, but it was not an unbelievable ride in the sense that it should cause massive alarm bells.

    The big story is the collapse of the other riders. I wonder if now teams will re-think and pick riders who have the natural talent rather than ones who respond well to certain additives. Maybe we’ll see a continued rise in the Columbians like in the 80′s?

  • Trevor

    Graeme is right. I live in France and I can say that on Sunday the French TV commentators were insinuating all afternoon about Froome and the way he was riding up the Ventoux. At the Finish another commentator grabbed Greg LeMond at the finish, says “Froome looked me in the eyes this week and said ‘I don’t dope’ – Greg – what do you think?”. Then Monday’s L’Equipe states “Froome Naturally” with great irony. Froome has undergone a mediatic Lynching. I was accosted four times at work yesterday by different unconnected colleagues with the same question ‘isn’t Froome doping?’. The general public has been swayed this way by the media, not by his competitors, doping controls, or past racing record. This is a high price to pay for the decades of rampant doping issues, from the first riders strik against doping controls in 1966. Chris: you’ll have to grit your teeth not only in the hills, but also in the forthcoming press conference. If I could offer one piece of advice: Don’t give interviews to Gerard Holtz for the rest of the Tour.

  • Andrew W

    It’s inevitable that when anyone is knocking spots off “top” riders like Valverde and Contador the assumption that he must be doping will come up. The possibility that those other riders were only “top” riders because of artificial help seems curiously ignored. We know those two have doped in the past so it’s not stretching belief too much to suggest they might now be looking more normal because they can’t dope so easily. Andy Schleck’s performance (or lack of) raises an eyebrow also. Dave Brailsford has previously said that Froome’s power output was always phenomenal and the mystery was why he didn’t win as much as the figures would suggest he should. In short, I don’t think doping has got him up the Ventoux in first place- I think dope testing probably has.

  • Steven

    Brailsford, Froome, etc will always defend their team but i’ve said it many times that to me David Walsh is the overriding factor that convinces me Sky are 100% clean, he spent 13/14 years exposing the truth about Lance and he spends alot of time in the Sky setup, as an employee of the Sunday Times he might have the same boss as everyone at Sky but i’m 100% certain if he found out something suspicous was going on at Sky he’d expose the truth straight away, if not he’d lose all credibility as an investigative journalist. he says Sky are clean in his newspaper articles so given his past i think that gives Sky massive credibility.

  • melcfromfinsburypark

    Brialsford says he doesnt want to release his riders data and in saying so he wants to both somehow be able to persuade the hacks and the cycling fans that his riders are clean and also preserve some of the trainign secrets that he feels give his squad and edge. He may be unrealistic to expect to be able to do both. Other riders on the tour are releasing their data though, Ten Dam is on Strava http://app.strava.com/pros/186522, so I could be wrong (please tell me if I am), but surely if one uses their data one can use the ratio of the time he took to get up a climb and the time it took Froome to work out his w/kg.

    I think that at the bottom of last Saturdays climb to Ax 3 Domaine and at the bottom of Ventoux Ten Dam and Frome started the climbs together in the remnants of the peleton. The tour website has Froome as weighing 72 kg and Ten Dam as 67Kg. For last Saturdays climb http://app.strava.com/activities/65157191#1251253455 Ten Dam’s power output from his Garmin showed 404w which equates to 6.03 w/Kg (404/67). If Froome has taken the same time his w/kg would have been 5.61 w/kg (404/72). According to the tour website Ten Dam finished 1m 16s behind Froome and his strava data shows he took 24m and 9s to complete the climb. Cant one just use that ratio to calculate Froom w/kg? i.e. (24 + 9/60)/(22 + 53/60) = 1.05 giving Froomes w/kg for the climb as 5.61 x 1.05 = 5.92 w/kg

    If one applies the same logic to Ventoux http://app.strava.com/activities/67057155#1287916934 Ten Dams w/kg for the climb was 388/67=5.79 w/kg. He completed the climb in 58m 17sec which was 1m 53 slower than Froome. So Froomes w/kg for Ventoux was (388/72)*(58 + 17/60)/( 56 + 24/60) = 5.58 w/kg

    Both Ten Dam and Froome are therefor outputting far fewer w/kg than dopers like Armstrong did in their hay day. Or am I missing something?

  • Kevin

    Froome will be proven to be a cheat, not now, not next year but when his current team mates turn on him….

    Sky is funded by Newscorp and their image fits the profile of underhand dealings.

  • Robert

    It seems that yet another Armstrong / Froome parallel is coming to the fore here: his supporters are allowing their Francophobia to show! Fact is the vast majority of ‘The French’ show no bias towards Froome or Sky. Rather, they are convinced that almost ALL pro cyclists dope, including French riders! I would suggest that the real ‘problem’ here is that French fans tend to approach the sport with an open mind and a full awareness of its history. As to other teams and riders not been subject to suspicion and innuendo, get real! Many British cycling fans seem all too ready to believe that all ‘foreigners’ dope whilst, of course, Brits get by on nothing more than a stiff upper lip. This is both arrogant and delusional. As the (American) Science of Sport site put it when speaking of Froome’s Ax-3-Domaines performance, “with the exception of Froome and perhaps Porte, the rest of the peloton performed in a manner that is typical of cycling over the last few years. Their performances were consistent with post-biological passport levels, and matched or even fell short of the prediction models. It was only Froome and Sky who exceeded them. Therefore, skepticism is normal, and failing to appreciate that will come only from extreme naivety or patriotism.”

  • Don Danberry

    Questions about doping will never go away I’m afraid. And it’s right they don’t, because of what has happened in the past, and what could still happen. All top cyclists need to deal with the issue openly and honestly, and not just hope it will go away.

    Froome and Sky need to be rational with this issue, like they are with everything else. Anger and frustration is all good and well, but scientific data, clauses in contracts, direct statements from riders, etc., is more convincing, as Dave Brailsford seems a least in part to understand. Journalists will always play tricks and try to provoke emotional responses; Sky needs to respond patiently, cooly and unequivocally. Easier said than done, of course, asking them to be their own PR officers as well as everything else, but it has to be done.

    The UCI also needs to sort itself out and play a stronger role in eradicating drugs and severly penalising those caught using them.

    The other factor that Froome perhaps is too modest to mention is natural talent – was it a coincidence that the best climbers on the Ventoux were those with the ‘fittest’ physiques, in the Darwinian sense – those most apt to their environment? Both were both born and raised at altitude; and both are very lightweight. I hope so. And I hope Quintana is subject to the same level of scrutiny as well. But more than that, I sincerely hope this is a clean race, because it’s a great one.

  • Malcolm Meddings

    Surely the reason why Sky are being so successful is simply that many of their rivals have been cheating in the past, but are not now, so we have a fairly level playing field for the first time in years? The Sky training, technical programmes and the sheer hard work being put in by the riders are paying dividends and their results deserve all the praise we can give them.

  • Ken Evans

    Every rest day in the Tour the journos / hacks ask the same old questions. With the LA farce that isn’t so surprising. But why ask Froome, when there are several much more obvious riders / DSs to ask about drugs.

  • Graeme

    You only have to look at the comments from French fans on the pages of the L` Equipe website after a British victory to realise that SKY and the British are distinctly unpopular,with continual refernces to ‘Armstrong,US postal and AICAR’.
    Of course it`s a less than well hidden fact that the French really don`t like us and if Jesus Christ was riding for SKY there would still be a problem!
    It`s all a bit ironic really because over the years,from Anquetil onwards,the French have been the BIGGEST cheats in the sport!
    Is Chris Froome clean?…I have no idea,but surely it should be a case of innocent until proven guilty. Other teams and nations riders aren`t subjected to this kind of suspicion and innuendo and we shouldn`t be either…

  • Rich

    It seems that Froome’s performances are being questioned largely because he is so much better than his rivals. Clearly Contador, Andy Schleck & Evans are not at the same level of performance we have seen in the past. Nibali isn’t riding the tour and the next generation of potential challengers such as Quintana are simply not at Froome’s level yet. Froome seems to be being tarnished ultimately by the lack of a serious rival this year.

  • stepho

    Was Nibali endlessly grilled when he won this year’s Giro with some extraordinary performances (including his amazing improvement in time trialling), or Rodriguez, Contador and Valverde repeatedly questioned when they danced up the ridiculous gradients in the final week of last year’s Vuelta? Froome is being targeted because of Sky’s unpopular domination of the biggest stage of them all. If Froome is on PED’s, then the logical extension is that every member of the British cycling teams (road and track), including the women and the paralympians, as well as the Sky squad, must be as well. Does anyone seriously believe that?

  • James H

    I suspect this is a case of sour grapes, too good to be true, etc.

    As a team Sky race clean (they all re-signed their contracts this year stating they have never been involved in doping etc). Sky have been relatively dominant all season (other than the Classics) and the press assume that this means they have to be doping rather than focusing on the race story. All they are looking for is a scoop on the scale of Lance Armstrong.

    As for the “compliment” issue. He may have been a cheat, he may have bullied and lied to cover up his cheating, but you can’t take away from him that he beat the peleton (some of whom were also proven cheats) 7 times on the trot. Ignoring the doping, in some ways it is a compliment to be compared to Lance Armstrong.

    For the record, I despise what Lance Armstrong did to our sport. I despise him for trying to cover it up, and the way he ran from the truth when everyone was shouting at him to confess. Doping has no place in our Sport, and Froome, Wiggins, and the rest of Team Sky is proof you don’t need to dope anymore to be the best.

  • Hamish

    He needs to ignore these questions, just talk about the great ride, the wonderful supporters, and his teammates. Lance protested all the time too, it didn’t help his image before we found out he cheated and it made it worse after we did. Take a page out of the politician’s public speaking book and simply answer the question you want to be asked, not the one you got.

  • Robert

    “We’ve slept on volcanoes, been away from homes from months, working our asses off to get ready for this”. Yes, he’s probably been ‘busting his ass six hours a day’! Appropriate really, seeing how he thinks being compared to Armstrong is a ‘compliment’…

  • Herbie

    Don’t remember Ryder Hejsedal having all this when he came relatively nowhere to win the Giro, and then seems to have disappeared back there. Froome has been at the top of GT riding with Sky for 2.5 years – why are cycling journalists so ready to question things without any evidence – go and question Athletics and Tennis where they haven’t yet confronted their devils!!