GRENOBLE, France (VN) — After a war of words in the second week of the the Tour de France, Cédric Vasseur and team Sky made peace just in time for the finish in Paris on Sunday.
Vasseur talked to Sky principal David Brailsford after Chris Froome defended his yellow jersey on the Alpe d’Huez climb yesterday.
The former French professional comments daily from a television motorbike for France 2. During the stage to La Pierre-Saint-Martin, when Froome broke clear of his rivals, he said, “It seems that the bike is pedaling on its own.”
Afterward, he said in an interview that the governing body needs to examine all the top riders’ bikes for motors.
“I said it’s not the fault of Chris Froome, or anyone else, but the fault of the UCI,” he said.
Froome, when asked, said that the comments were “rich” coming from someone who rode for Lance Armstrong’s team and during cycling’s darkest era. It created a divide between Sky and Vasseur — a chasm that was at least partly bridged at the Alpe d’Huez ski resort.
“David and I spoke,” Vasseur told VeloNews. “We are back to being friends.”
Vasseur observed that Froome – whom fans insulted, one by throwing urine in his face – won over most in France with his ride up Alpe d’Huez.
“Chris Froome gave the fans something, people like it when champions are suffering,” Vasseur said.
“On the Alpe d’Huez, Chris conquered the hearts of the French. People were shocked the day when they thought he killed the Tour de France with his ride up La Pierre-Saint-Martin. They thought the race was over.
“But with how he raced the Alpe d’Huez gave him a big popularity boost in France. I know the French, they always prefer the guy who is suffering than the one who is killing the race. They treated Eddy Merckx and Bernard Hinault the same when they dominated.”
Froome lost a minute and 26 seconds after his nearest rival Nairo Quintana (Movistar) broke free on the climb to the Alpine ski resort. At one point, he appeared as though he might crack and lose his overall lead, but he managed the gap to Quintana. On Sunday, he closed the three-week race, riding into Paris with a margin of 1:12, enough to claim his second Tour title.
“The way this Tour de France ended, it made Sky and Froome look like heroes,” Vasseur said.
“If you win a in an easy way, people don’t like it, but they do appreciate seeing an athlete suffer.”