Tour de France 2020

Sky’s Brailsford calls for more tools to fight doping

The Sky boss says his star rider is clean, and he calls for the UCI to do more to combat doping in the sport

BOURG-DE-PAGE, France (AFP) — Sky manager Dave Brailsford has repeated calls for greater transparency amid new doping allegations against Tour de France leader Chris Froome.

Brailsford was invited onto French television to discuss Froome’s power data as an expert suggested the 30-year-old Briton was not riding cleanly.

Pierre Sallet from the Athletes for Transparency organization produced a formula by which he measured Froome’s watts per kilogram output on his climb to La Pierre-Saint Martin last Tuesday — the 10th stage, which he won.

Sallet calculated that Froome had produced a reading of 7.04 watts per kilo and said that a 6.5 reading would be normal and anything over 7.0 was abnormally high.

To make matters worse, Sallet claimed the only people to have recorded readings over 7.0 were doping cheats like Lance Armstrong and Jan Ullrich.

However, the French expert failed to either show what their readings were or compare Froome’s reading to his current rivals or his own performances on other climbs, rendering the study largely meaningless.

But Brailsford faced questions on the ”Stade 2″ program on France Televisions about the data.

“You have to be careful because it’s a mathematical formula. This isn’t the full data, that’s not Chris’ weight. It’s an estimate,” said Brailsford, referring to the 71kg weight used in the study.

Brailsford, who has already called for a power passport to be used alongside the biological passport, insisted Sky had given all Froome’s data to UK Anti-Doping after he faced similar suspicions following his 2013 Tour victory.

And Brailsford even called for the International Cycling Union (UCI) to embed doping experts with teams — funded of course by the UCI — to monitor riders constantly.

“I can’t prove a negative but I can work with the UCI and independent experts and try to find a solution,” said Brailsford.

“I’m asking the UCI to do it in fact, because it’s not right what’s happening. Chris is special, that’s for sure. He has a special physiology, that’s for sure. But he doesn’t cheat.”

Sunday was a relatively calm day for Froome and his fellow overall contenders as the 15th stage ended in a bunch sprint won by Andre Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) — the German’s third stage win this year and ninth in total at the Grand Boucle.

Monday’s 16th stage ahead of Tuesday’s rest day should also favor a breakaway or a sprint finish rather than a battle between overall contenders.

The 201-kilometer trek from Bourg-de-Peage to Gap includes two second category climbs, the second peaking 12km before the fast downhill finish.

It perhaps suits a puncher who can get over the 8.9km Col de Manse, which has an average gradient of 5.6 percent, close enough to the leaders to be able to reach the line in a position to sprint for the win.

Pure sprinters like Greipel or Mark Cavendish (Etixx-Quick-Step) have little hope of contesting the win, while pure climbers such as French pair Romain Bardet (Ag2r La Mondiale) and Thibaut Pino (FDJ) are unlikely to be able to drop faster finishers on such a slope.