The Tour de France leader Chris Froome has hit back at French TV commentators and former riders Laurent Jalabert and Cédric Vasseur after they raised questions about his dominant performance on the La Pierre-Saint-Martin summit finish earlier in the week.
Jalabert said Froome’s ride had made him feel uneasy, whilst Vasseur had made comments about bikes that seemingly worked under their own steam – in other words have secret motors. But neither have a straightforward past in the sport.
Both former professionals, in 2013 Jalabert was named in a French Senate report on the drug-ridden 1998 Tour and the fight against doping as having tested positive for EPO in post-dated tests on a urine sample – although the result was not officially confirmed. Vasseur, although never directly implicated in any scandal, was a former rider with Lance Armstrong’s US Postal squad.
Froome argued that it was “quite rich coming from Jalabert and Vasseur to be commenting on my racing in such a way”. He added: “It’s really disappointing, because those are the guys a lot of fans, supporters, have looked up at as idols, and here they are casting doubts on a clean team. These guys are setting the tone and in my opinion that’s not correct.”
As internet speculation and rumour continues to swirl around the Briton’s performances, Froome also strongly denied that he or Team Sky use an ultra-expensive new energy drink, costing around £2,000 a litre, containing ketones.
“That [the rumour] is crazy,” he said. “I had to google it to find out what it is. But 100 per cent the team does not use ketones.”
In 2013 Jalabert pulled out from his Tour TV commentating job as publication of the Senate report loomed. But he has now returned, highlighting criticism that the cycling community still lacks a clear set of moral standards when dealing with former riders with associations to the sport’s murky past working within it.
Arguably the most high-profile recent case – Armstrong, currently on a two-day fundraising ride for leukemia research on the Tour’s route, one day ahead of the race – weighed in on the same issue of alleged double standards when the wisdom of his return to France was questioned by some reporters.
“I shouldn’t be here? Laurent Jalabert is working on the Tour, no? We were all riding in an unfortunate era,” Armstrong told specialist website Cyclingnews.
“Why am I not welcome? Because I’m a doper? If that were the rule, the caravan would almost be empty. I don’t mean the riders in this Tour, but in the press room, the commentary boxes, team cars. No disrespect to those guys… But if you’re going to apply a standard it has to be universal.”Reuse content