Froome, splashed by urine, raises a stink over 'irresponsible reporting'

Team Sky rider Chris Froome (right) has been the subject of speculation over possible drug-taking, after he posted an early big lead over other leading contenders in the Tour de France.
Team Sky rider Chris Froome (above) has been the subject of speculation over possible drug-taking, after he posted an early big lead over other leading contenders in the Tour de France.PHOTO: REUTERS

MENDE (France) • Race leader Chris Froome was doused with urine by a spectator as a fresh scandal engulfed cycling's Tour de France on Saturday.

The incident overshadowed what had been a historic first victory for Stephen Cummings and his South African MTN-Qhubeka team on Nelson Mandela Day.

Froome hit out at certain media for "irresponsible reporting" of his and his Sky team's success on the Tour so far, blaming them for setting the "tone" that led to Saturday's attack.

Speaking after the 178.5km 14th stage from Rodez to Mende, Froome pulled no punches.

"A spectator about 50-60km into the race threw a cup of urine over me, shouting 'dope'," he said.

"It's unacceptable on so many levels. We're professionals, we work really hard for what we do and for someone to come and do that, it's not what we're here for."

He then pointed the finger, although without naming names.

"I certainly don't blame the public for this, it's certainly a minority of people out there ruining it for everybody else," he said.

"I would blame some of the reporting on the race, it's very irresponsible. Those individuals know who they are."

Froome, who has not only been accused of doping but also of using a motorised bicycle, added: "It's not riders bringing the sport into disrepute, it's individuals and they know who they are."

The incident happened after Froome's team-mate Richie Porte revealed earlier in the day that he had been punched on Tuesday's Pyrenean stage, when his team leader won.

"I was (punched) in the last 3km. I got a full-on punch," Porte told the Telegraph Cycling Podcast.

"It's a disgrace how some of these people carry on."

Despite the attack, Froome tightened his grip on the race leader's yellow jersey.

The Colombian rider Nairo Quintana of Movistar moved up to second overall at 3min 10sec back, as BMC Racing's American Tejay van Garderen lost 40sec and dropped to third at 3min 32sec.

Briton Cummings out-thought a pair of Frenchmen to give his debutant Qhubeka team the stage victory on the international day to honour the life of Mandela, an icon for freedom in South Africa.

As Romain Bardet and Thibaut Pinot played cat-and-mouse after cresting the brutal final climb, Cummings showed no mercy and scorched past the pair to win in 4hr 23min 43sec.

"I've been trying for a long time to do this, it's always been a dream," said the 34-year-old.

"We had a special meeting this morning and we had special helmets on because it's Mandela day, it was a big motivation."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

TOUR DE FRANCE

Stage 16: StarHub Ch212, 8pm

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 20, 2015, with the headline 'Froome, splashed by urine, raises a stink over 'irresponsible reporting''. Print Edition | Subscribe