RODEZ, France (AFP) - Australian Richie Porte says he was punched by a spectator while helping Chris Froome to victory on Tuesday's 10th stage of the Tour de France.
The Briton won the mountain stage that finished in the Pyrenees at La Pierre-Saint Martin, with Porte passing Nairo Quintana to take second place in a Team Sky 1-2.
But the 30-year-old Australian, who will leave Sky at the end of the season, told the Telegraph Podcast that his team are being targeted because of their success.
"I was (punched) in the last 3km. I got a full-on punch," he said. "It was the same atmosphere on Alpe d'Huez two years ago."
Froome won the Tour in 2013 after a pairing of stunning stage wins up to Ax 3 Domaines and Mont Ventoux, meaning that by the time he reached the Alps, and Alpe d'Huez, his Tour victory was virtually already sewn up.
Porte said the Sky riders, and Froome in particular, are paying for negative speculation that they are doped. "They are so anti-whatever we are. Do I deserve to be booed? Does Chris Froome deserve all this? I don't think so.
"Maybe in 10 years' time they're going to see that these victories are legitimate.
"It's a disgrace how some of these people carry on."
But while Porte argued with spectators earlier this week after being abused, he says his team leader, also 30, is handling it much better.
"When they were giving him abuse I heard him laugh about it. He's got a thick skin and you need that in the yellow jersey."
Disgraced American Lance Armstrong also had to put up with abuse on mountain stages during his seven-year reign - which he was later stripped of for doping. The Texan also complained that he was paying for the constant speculation that he was cheating - although in that case, the critics were eventually proved right.
Froome, meanwhile, has described Porte as "epic" and said the Tasmanian will have a "massive" role to play before the Tour finishes.
With the Alps looming from Tuesday, he says Porte can have a big impact on the race.
"Anyone who watched (Thursday's) stage can see epic amount of work Richie did for me," he said.