Froome will inherit yellow after Friday, and history indicates that he's in good company among former champs
LE HAVRE, France (AFP) — Britain’s Chris Froome (Sky), second in the Tour de France overall at the start of stage 6, will not wear the yellow jersey on Friday, after race leader Tony Martin (Etixx-Quick-Step) abandoned on Thursday.
“The rules do not require [Froome to wear yellow] in this case,” race director Thierry Gouvenou told AFP.
Several riders, who have been given Tour leadership due to unexpected circumstances, like crashes, have refused to wear the yellow jersey in the past. Coincidence or not, Froome might take heart in the fact that, in most of these examples, the newly crowned race leaders went on to win the Tour overall.
In 1980, Dutchman Joop Zoetemelk did not want the Tour’s maillot jaune, following the abandonment of Bernard Hinault after stage 12 (Agen-Pau), due to tendinitis in his knee. However, the jersey belonged to Zoetemelk at the end of that edition of the race
In 1991, American Greg LeMond also demurred after Dane Rolf Sorensen crashed a few kilometers from the finish in Valenciennes. Sorensen managed to finish the stage, like Martin did Thursday, but could not carry on afterward. Before the next day, stage 6, which finished in Le Havre, LeMond would not don the yellow jersey. After a long breakaway, Thierry Marie won the day and took the GC lead. The Frenchman wore the leader’s jersey for two days, and then LeMond took it with a second-place finish in stage 8’s time trial. Miguel Indurain would go on to win that Tour.
The most famous example remains that of the Belgian Eddy Merckx, who would not wear yellow the day after Spaniard Luis Ocana crashed out of the 1971 Tour on the Col de Mente. Merckx eventually won that Tour, his third of five victories.
More recently, Spaniard Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) declined to wear the yellow jersey when Dane Michael Rasmussen was kicked out of the 2007 race in Pau. There was no maillot jaune in the peloton for stage 17 to Castelsarrasin, but after that stage, Contador wore the leader’s jersey and won the final GC.