SISTERON, France (AFP) — Chris Froome’s Sky team said on Tuesday it has shared a “billion points of data” with the UK Anti-Doping Agency in a bid to quash speculation its team leader is cheating.
Sky held a press conference during the second and final Tour de France rest day in Sisteron, near Gap in the Alps, during which it shared some of Froome’s power data.
The move came after a week of constant doping speculation and accusations thrown at the 30-year-old Tour leader since his stage 10 victory up to La Pierre-Saint Martin in the Pyrenees.
A few days after that success, France Televisions produced a study by its own expert into the amount of power generated by Froome on his climb to La Pierre-Saint Martin.
The study, looking at Froome’s power to weight ratio, claimed he had produced an effort of 7.04 watts per kilogram. The higher that ratio, the faster a rider will climb.
But Sky’s own expert Tim Kerrison, head of athlete performance, produced his figures after team manager Dave Brailsford claimed the French study was “so wildly wrong on so many levels.”
Kerrison claimed Froome’s average watts output was 414 rather than the 425 claimed by the French expert, and that his true watts per kilo translated to a figure of 5.78.
French expert Pierre Sallet from the Athletes for Transparency organization had claimed on France 2’s “Stade 2” program that a normal figure should be 6.5 and that anything over 7.0 was abnormal and had only been recorded in doped riders such as Lance Armstrong and Jan Ullrich — therefore, a 7.04 figure for Froome would have suggested he had also doped.
Brailsford, who had been invited onto the Stade 2 program only to be blindsided with Sallet’s data analysis, blasted it for its inaccuracy.
“I understood the straight facts weren’t correct and I actually asked for some time to present a bit of data today to put to bed some of the numbers they presented, because they were wildly wrong,” said the Sky manager.
“You’ve got to be respectable, if you are going to present something to the nation’s people you have to get it right.”
Max heart rate
Kerrison offered more data on Froome to try to dispel any ideas that his performances, either in 2013 or this year, were out of the ordinary for him.
He claimed Froome had averaged a cadence of 97 revolutions per minute on the 15.3-kilometer La Pierre-Saint Martin climb, with an average heart rate of 158 and a maximum of 174.
After Froome’s stage 10 victory, Sky claimed its computers had been hacked and data from his 2013 Tour stage victory on Mont Ventoux was stolen and shared on the Internet.
That appeared to show his heart rate staying at a stable 160 when he accelerated on the mountain.
But Kerrison revealed Froome’s maximum heart rate in the second week of the 2013 Tour had been 168 and his maximum at last year’s Vuelta was 171. The 174 he managed in this Tour shows consistent progression.
“For sure there’s a limit to human capabilities, although I’m not sure what the process would be to define that line,” said Kerrison.
“Human performances evolve and we’ll all be sitting here in 30 years thinking [Froome’s latest performance] wasn’t that remarkable.”
Froome himself said he would not let the bad publicity affect his performances.
“All that has been going on in the sidelines really has been more of a sideshow, my focus has been on the race and I think the racing shows that nothing’s thrown me off in that regard,” he said.
“It’s a normal week of racing at the office on the Tour de France.”
But Froome did admit to being frustrated at the difference in treatment he receives compared to his rivals.
“Obviously we seem to cop a lot of speculation and a lot of doubts around our performances,” he said. “Why aren’t those same level of doubts cast upon similar performances of other general classification contenders? Why only us?”