Tour de France Harder For Froome Than Rivals Says Brailsford

Froome_tdf_stage18_2015_corvos
By Barnaby CHESTERMAN

Paris, Oct 21, 2015 (AFP) – Chris Froome will always find it harder to win
the Tour de France than his rivals because of the doping suspicions that
follow him, his Team Sky manager Dave Brailsford believes.

Speaking after the 2016 Tour route announcement in Paris on Tuesday,
Brailsford said the negative publicity his rider is subjected to makes things
more difficult for him than his competition.

“We’re all about performing in the right way and that’s what we’ll continue
to do,” said the Sky chief.

“People will make their own judgements, we said enough about it this year.

“I think it’s harder for Chris to win the Tour than the others — the other
guys don’t get the same abuse that he takes, so for Chris to come back and
have the appetite to try to win the Tour de France with the French attitude,
that makes it harder for him to win it.”

Froome and his Sky teammates were subjected to a series of unsavoury
incidents during this year’s race, in which the 30-year-old earned his second
overall victory at the Grand Boucle.

The Kenyan-born Brit had urine thrown at him, his Australian teammate
Richie Porte was punched and several Sky riders, Froome included, were spat at.

Geraint Thomas was knocked off the road, into a pylon and down a ravine by
an over-ambitious overtaking manoeuvre from Frenchman Warren Barguil.

In addition, Froome was attacked by Vincenzo Nibali when suffering a
mechanical problem in the antepenultimate stage (breaking a taboo about not
attacking the yellow jersey when he suffers a mechanical), while television
cameras caught an enthusiastic elderly gentleman giving Froome a theatrical
‘arm of honour’ — an offensive gesture known as ‘up yours’ in English — as
he passed.

It was a case of overcoming trials and tribulations for Froome in an often
hostile environment in which French media, in particular, constantly
questioned him over doping and even whether or not he was using a motorised
bicycle.

Time and again, Froome was asked to justify his performances, even though
he won only one stage during the race, the 10th and first with a summit
finish, on Bastille Day.

A French television programme also blind-sided Brailsford live on air with
what they prematurely announced as “proof” that Froome couldn’t be clean, with
a rudimentary interpretation of his power data.

– No enjoyment –

While Brailsford admits that Froome is affected by the negative publicity,
he says it won’t discourage the rider from ploughing on with his goals.

“He doesn’t enjoy it for sure when it happened, but you don’t think about
that when you’re a bike racer and you want to win,” said Brailsford.

What really made the difference for Froome in 2015 was his consistency.
While all his major rivals dropped time in unexpected places, either by
getting caught behind a crash or losing form at a critical moment, Froome
performed well every time a question was asked of him.

In the end, his winning margin was only 1min 12sec from Nairo Quintana —
less than the time the Colombian lost on the windy second stage when he got
caught behind a crash caused by crosswinds.

Froome himself believes next year’s route will suit his all-round abilities.

“It’s a great well-balanced route, a bit of time-trialing, quite a bit of
climbing, quite a bit of emphasis on the technical side, the descending, a few
finish lines close to the bottom of descents,” he said.

“It’s going to be a Tour that really tests all aspects of the complete
cyclist.”

And these days, the complete cyclist needs a thick skin, particularly if
he’s a British champion of France’s favourite event.

File Photo: Cor Vos

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