Cycling: World cycling chief blasts media over doping questions at Tour de France

LAUSANNE (AFP) - International Cycling Union (UCI) president Pat McQuaid jumped to the defence of today's cyclists, blasting the press who are focused more on doping than racing at the Tour de France.

Chris Froome and TeamSky's dominant performance on the first Pyrenean mountain stage on Saturday got tongues wagging in the press, with many drawing comparisons to performances produced by the disgraced former US Postal team with whom Lance Armstrong won seven Tour de France titles he would be later stripped of for doping.

But McQuaid said it is unfair to tarnish today's racers with the same brush as their predecessors from the 1990s.

"I think the riders deserve another thing than to be asked about doping as the first question when they show up in the press conference," he said.

"Yesterday (Sunday) and the day before, the first questions the riders had to answer was about doping, I think it is unfortunate.

"I think the media have to understand the riders of today don't deserve to be judged on the mistakes of their predecessors, of the riders of a generation of the past now. Riders of today need to be respected for what they are trying to do, which is to race clean and race without a doping programme."

Saturday's mountain-top finish saw Froome open up a 1min 25sec gap to his nearest challenger from another team, Movistar's Alejandro Valverde.

His closest rival that day was team-mate Porte who finished only 51sec back.

That had many in and around the peloton feeling dismayed that Team Sky would dominate the race this season even more so than they did a year ago.