Chris Froome (Sky) accepted a 20 second time penalty for an illegal feed in the Tour de France’s Alpe d’Huez stage today. Running low on sugars, he took gels from the team car via team-mate Richie Porte in the final five kilometres.

“At the end of the day, a rule’s a rule. If I’ve been giving it, I’ll have to take it,” Froome explained in a press conference.

“If you look at it technically, Richie actually took the feed from the car, not me. Maybe that’s something that should be taken into consideration,” Froome added.

Race rules state that a rider may not take food or drinks in the final ten kilometres of a mountaintop finish (20km for flat stages). The jury can modify it for certain stages and today it was established at six kilometres.

Froome lifted his right hand in the final five kilometres and signalled his need for help. Porte dropped back to the car and brought gels back to Froome.

“I needed it,” Froome said earlier. “If it comes to a 20 second penalty, I can accept that.”

Froome gained 57 seconds on direct rival Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff) today. However, with the 20 second penalty, his earns were knocked back to 37 seconds.

“My main rivals were behind me. I knew it wasn’t bad for me. I just had to keep myself in check,” added Froome.

“I can assure you that’s not the first time in my career that I’ve run out of sugar. It’s a horrible feeling, I’m just happy to come out of the stage with more of an advantage. I’ll accept that if that was a bad day.”

Even with the 20 second penalty, he leads the overall by 5’11” over Contador with three days to race.

Porte, for his part, also received a 20 second penalty. Both Sky riders must also pay 200 Swiss Francs or £140 and Sports director, Nicolas Portal 1000CHF, around £695.

Froome appeared fresh and recovered after the stage. He rode on his turbo trainer and ate “a bowl of rice and a recovery bar, [and drank] a lot of fluid.”

He needs it, tomorrow is another hard day. The 204.5-kilometre stage starts immediately with the Col du Glandon climb, covers the Col de la Madeleine and ends with the Col de la Croix Fry and a descent to Le Grand-Bornand.

“Tomorrow is possibly the hardest day of the Tour, it really will be a hard day even if it is not mountain top finish,” Froome explained.

He does, however, feel comfortable in his lead. “I think it will be more of a battle played out for second and third overall because it’s so close.”

  • Ken Evans

    “Tour De F100me” (well somebody has to use the obvious lazy cliche !)

  • JeffGoldblumIII

    Sky’s famous attention to detail and focus on diet shows through once again. Remembering to eat is a big aspect of diet. And planning that around the logistics of the stage wasn’t beyond Movistar or Katusha (even though they’re stuck-in-their-ways Europeans who can’t be bothered with training hard or planning, unlike bald Jesus’ Sky).

  • Ron Stuart

    An ex pro emailed me with this comment….. Froome and “perfectionist” Team Sky messed up badly yesterday in not ensuring he had a couple of spare gels in his pocket. Incredible! All of us have probably bonked out at one time or another in our racing careers — it cost me a victory in the pro Tour du Var in 1957. But then, unlike Froome, I was riding with no back up or support.

  • Don

    Should change the rule. If you’re hungry or thirsty why can’t you eat or drink no matter where you are?

  • adam

    It’s amazing to see how many comments on various sites about this infringement of the rules. Cheating? Yes, by it’s strictest defnition. But this sort of thing happens a gazillion times a day in pro cycling. Sticky bottles, streaming team cars to get back on etc etc. It’s hardly up there with doping. Funny to see how people say ‘He’s doing this, this proves he’s willing to cheat, therefore he’s doping.’ By that logic anyone who knocks of work early or drives at 80mph on a motorway must also be willing to murder.
    I can’t say i’m a huge Froome fan, but… the volume of dislike seems deeply unfair.

  • sid coppi

    it seems we always have to have the dudley dorights in sports’ organisations,the sort of people who go to bed in blazers:after organising a series of stages of relentless brutality you’d have thought they’d have given Froome a bit of leeway and merely fined the team and not the rider who,like the rest of the peleton,put in a fantastic effort to make this race an amazing competition.
    The brutality of the mtn stages also raises the question of how savage do the organisers want it to be before the old Armstrong /Anquetil mantra raises its head -‘do you think we can do this on just bread and water ?’
    When some of the big climbs are put end to end it just developes into a negative exercise in which the race noodles on at the rate of a glorified club run before competing for the last climb.

  • John Xang

    20 s time penalty is nothing for that infraction. Had he bonked he could have lost well over 5 minutes. At the minimum he should have been penalized 5 minutes. That way the final 2 days would for sure have become a lot more exciting, plus it would teach him not to cheat. The impact of those gels in this instance was way greater than the effects of any doping.