LA PIERRE-SAINT-MARTIN, France (VN) — As Chris Froome’s arms flew into the air at the summit of La Pierre-Saint-Martin on Tuesday, some eyebrows raised right along with them. And then the questions came.
Froome (Sky), who now leads the overall by 2:52 over Tejay van Garderen (BMC), told the press he deserves more “respect” following a series of doping questions in the post-stage press conference.
“It doesn’t make me angry. I understand where the questions are coming from; I know the history of the Tour and those that have gone before me. But at the same time there also needs to be a level of respect,” he said. “I’ve worked extremely hard to get here, and I am not going to let anyone take that away from me.”
Just as every general classification contender before him, Froome has been dogged by the topic of doping, as both fans and press question his results and efforts. The clamor grows after a commanding victory like the one he claimed in stage 10.
Froome says he’s done everything possible to prove he’s clean, even rattling off a list of his contributions to the anti-doping fight for media, at a post-stage press conference.
“Prove more? What haven’t I done?” he asked. “I’ve tried to be a spokesman for clean cycling, talked to CIRC [Cycling Independent Reform Commission]; I’ve made suggestions to governing body such as nighttime testing. I’ve pointed out times when I felt there wasn’t enough testing, like up at Tenerife. What else is a rider, a clean rider, supposed to do?”
Froome has never been connected to any doping investigation. The clamor stems mostly from attempts to analyze the veracity of his performances through direct comparison to his peers and through the occasionally insightful — but ultimately imperfect — math surrounding climbing performance.
Froome faced a barrage of doping-related questions following dominant performances on Mont Ventoux and Ax 3 Domaines on his way to Tour victory in 2013.
The alleged hacking and theft of a mass of power data from Sky will no doubt contribute as well, despite the fact that power numbers, in and of themselves, cannot prove or disprove doping.
The Kenyan-born Brit has always managed to keep a level head in the face of accusatory questions. He says that’s because he’s clean.
“It’s not difficult for me to stay cool; it would be a different story if I had something to hide,” he said. “I’ve worked hard to get here, and I am really proud of that,” he said.