Froome seeks optional testing to fend off critics

LA PIERRE SAINT-MARTIN (France) • Chris Froome is planning to undergo independent medical testing next month in the hope of persuading sceptics that his remarkable performances in the ongoing Tour de France are possible without doping.

The Team Sky leader blew away his rivals in the first big climb of the Tour on Tuesday, winning the 167km Stage 10 in 4hr 22min 7sec.

Team-mate Richie Porte of Australia finished 59sec later, while Movistar's Nairo Quintana arrived third at La Pierre-Saint Martin at 1:04 behind Froome.

Froome now has a seemingly unassailable lead overall, with BMC's Tejay Van Garderen 2min 52sec behind and Quintana 3:09 adrift. But the Briton acknowledged that he faces another battle to win over doubters.

It is understood that Froome plans to put himself through physiological tests once the Tour is finished in the hope of showing that he is the beneficiary not of drugs, but of an extraordinary physical capacity.

The 30-year-old hopes to have experts carry out a series of extensive tests before the Vuelta a Espana on Aug 22.

He has talked of his unusual physiology - a heart rate that never climbs above 168 even when powering up a steep mountain, a lung capacity of more than eight litres - but wants to unearth more details.

The plan is to publish the findings, though whether that information will lessen the debate remains to be seen. Sky have been reluctant to release detailed information such as power data, claiming that it is open to misinterpretation.

The British team have had lawyers investigate the leaking of data from Froome's climb up Mont Ventoux in 2013, which was his most notable performance until Tuesday.

Asked if the numbers could be used to prove doping, he replied: "That's nuts, especially seeing as the data in question is over two years old."

Froome said he understood why his decisive display on Tuesday would be questioned, given cycling's dark past.

"I do understand where the questions are coming from, the history of the sport and the people before me who have won the Tour," he said. "I am sympathetic, but at the same time there needs to be a certain level of respect also."

Pressed on what more he could do to demonstrate that he is not doping, Froome said: "What haven't I done? I've tried to be as much as a spokesman as I can for clean cycling. I've made suggestions to the governing body to implement things like night-time testing, I've pointed out when I've felt there hasn't been enough testing. What else is a clean rider supposed to do?"

Emma O'Reilly, the former physiotherapist with US Postal who was one of the whistle-blowers against disgraced star Lance Armstrong, appears to be one of the sceptics. She tweeted: "The more things change, the more they stay the same!"

Armstrong himself was more circumspect. "Clearly Froome/Porte/Sky are very strong," he wrote. "Too strong to be clean? Don't ask me, I have no clue."

Froome insists that he will not be riled by the discussion.

"It would be a different story if I had something to hide. I know I'm a clean rider," he said.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE TIMES, LONDON

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 16, 2015, with the headline 'Froome seeks optional testing to fend off critics'. Print Edition | Subscribe