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A win atop Alpe d’Huez is a crowning achievement for any cyclist, especially a GC favorite in the Tour de France. Yet in his four times racing up the 21 hairpin bends, Chris Froome has never come home first.
Thursday’s stage 12 will likely go down as a particularly sour vintage of Alpe d’Huez for the Brit.
Throughout the 13.8-kilometer summit finish, he was harangued by the public lining the roadway with boos and jeers. His teammate Geraint Thomas sprinted to win the stage, wearing the yellow jersey. He is the first yellow jersey-wearer since Lance Armstrong to win on the Alpe.
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Thomas was not perturbed by the verbal abuse.
“People have their opinions, and that’s fine,” said Thomas. “As long as they don’t affect the race that’s the main thing.”
Froome did not speak to media after the finish of stage 12. After the three-day gauntlet of Alpine stages, he is 1:39 behind Thomas.
Thomas was also booed when he took the podium following his victory.
However, on his way to finishing fourth, some reports indicated that Froome endured more than just jeers, that one fan spat on him.
“Yeah, I didn’t see that but if people don’t like Sky and want to boo that is fine, do all you like but let us race, don’t affect the race, don’t touch the riders, don’t spit at us,” Thomas added. “Have a bit of decency. Voice your opinion all you want but let us do the racing.”
At one point, a fan lunged at Froome on the final climb. Fortunately, he did not interfere with the race.
— Trevor Ward #FBPE (@willwrite4cake) July 19, 2018
Former Tour de France stage winner and three-time green jersey winner Robbie McEwan, who now does TV commentary on the Tour, posted a photo of a fan being arrested. Although he said this fan was the one who punched Froome, the man looks to be wearing different clothing.
Andrew Hood and Fred Dreier contributed to this report from L’Alpe d’Huez, France.