Cycling: Froome open to physiological tests to counter doping suspicion

Froome shakes hands with a child before the start of the 188km 11th stage of the Tour de France.
Froome shakes hands with a child before the start of the 188km 11th stage of the Tour de France.REUTERS

CAUTERETS, France (REUTERS) - Tour de France leader Chris Froome has said he is willing to undergo physiological tests after this year's race to put to rest any suspicion of doping.

The Briton astonished rivals and pundits on Tuesday's 10th stage with a brutal attack in the final climb that left him nearly three minutes clear of his closest rival in the overall classification.

After being lied to for more than a decade by Lance Armstrong - the American who later admitted to cheating his way to seven Tour de France titles - fans easily doubt top performances.

"Right here at the moment my focus is on the race but certainly I'm open minded to potentially doing some physiological testing at some point after the Tour or whatever point suits," Froome told a news conference after retaining his overall leader's yellow jersey in Wednesday's 11th stage.

"There would be interesting things coming out of it, maybe the team might even learn something from it."

Froome faced a barrage of doping questions in 2013 when his impressive attack in the ascent to the Mont Ventoux raised questions.

A data file from that ascent was leaked on the internet this week with Team Sky manager Dave Brailsford saying the data had been hacked into.

The file was used by critics to say Froome's performance was suspicious, notably a recorded maximum heart rate of about 160 beats per minute - which is low - as he powered away from his rivals on the lung-busting climb.

"My maximum heart rate is only about 170," said Froome.

"So after two weeks on a grand tour, I'm quite surprised it went as high as 160."

Brailsford said he understood why great performances are often questioned.

"With the past that cycling has, it is reasonable (to have doubts)," he said.

"My job is to come here, be open and talk to everyone. We've been trying to be at the forefront of anti-doping. My job is to come here, stay calm and answer all the questions."

Brailsford suggested all the riders' power data should be analysed by experts in order to detect possible suspicious variations, echoing French coach Frederic Grappe's call on Tuesday.

"We have the biological passport, why not have a power profile for the riders?," he said, adding he was more surprised by the performance of Team Sky's rivals than by Froome's on Tuesday.

"I think that the surprise was the others' performance. They were not at the level they were expected to be," he explained.

"Yesterday, we did not see the true Contador, we did not see the true Nibali, and Quintana maybe was not as brilliant as before."