The abuse that Chris Froome received at the hands of French spectators in 2015 made it harder for him to win the Tour de France, according to Dave Brailsford

Chris Froome will find it more difficult to win the Tour de France compared to his rivals because of the abuse he receives, said Team Sky principal David Brailsford at the 2016 route presentation yesterday in Paris.

On his way to his second title this July, Froome was forced to answer questions about his power numbers, received boos and even had urine tossed in his face.

“We’re all about performing in the right way, and that’s what we’ll continue to do,” Brailsford told the AFP at the Palais des Congrès when asked about the negativity affecting Froome.

“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 won by 1-12 minutes over Nairo Quintana (Movistar) this July. It was not just his rivals who made the Tour difficult.

Richie Porte was punched after helping his team captain, Froome win at La Pierre-Saint-Martin. The day Steve Cummings (MTN-Qhubeka) won in Mende, someone threw a “small cup of urine” and yelled “doper” at Froome.

As the temperature rose so did the tension and fears. Armed French police, amid the usual crowd of fans and journalists, protected the riders outside Sky’s bus before and after the stages against potential troublemakers.

Highlights of the 2015 Tour de France

Even Brailsford came under fire. Invited by France 2 for a post-stage show, he explained that he was “ambushed” when an expert estimated Froome rode at 7.04 watts per kilogram – over 7.0, what many consider the limit of credibility. Sky, instead, said the number was at 5.78w/kg.

Regardless, Froome and Sky weathered the storm.

“It was all going on on the side lines,” Froome told press during the race.

“We seem to cop a lot of speculation. We’ve had a lot of doubts around our performances, while those same doubts aren’t being given to the other GC contenders.”

Brailsford explained that the negativity takes a toll on Froome, but the goal remains the same. “He doesn’t enjoy it for sure when it happened,” he said, “but you don’t think about that when you’re a bike racer and you want to win.”

  • Malaprop

    Tom Simpson?
    Who knows what he had without the drugs.

  • Malaprop

    yeah, usually the french piss themselves under pressure. Not throw it.

  • ummm…

    WHAT?!?!? It isn’t the gradient, the hot sun, the long days and weeks in the saddle, the tactics, the competition. No, what really wins the tour is how nice the spectators are. I’ll take a Tom Simpson, even with his debased doping, that had grit and determination over these new modern sensitive as glass cyclist. Although, I’m sure Froome wouldn’t have said this. He appears to be a fighter. DB needs to stop embarrassing himself and his team. He has done very well as the maestro, but this comment is really incomprehensible. “Man up”

  • Sean

    But it was French spectators who were spotted giving the abuse. A minority yes, but French all the same.

  • Andrew Bairsto

    There is an old adage “It takes one to know one”

  • John Westwell

    I didn’t single anything out as being representative of the French nation, however that incident was uniquely disgusting in my experience of cycling, and it seems likely that the person who did it was French. On Alpe D’Huez, the Dutch fans on Dutch corner behaved disgustingly as well. I’ve been here before to criticise them.

    Whereas bidon and peloton are words used in English, dopé is not, as I’m sure you’re aware. It would be unusual for someone to insult another person in a language other than their own, so the balance of probability is that the person who did it was French.

    I haven’t listened to Jalabert in the original French, however, I did see the transcription of his comments, which was full of innuendo (another French word) without saying anything directly. I also saw him being interviewed about his comments in French with subtitles on ITV4 The intention was to clarify what he meant, but he was very evasive, if not in outright denial. To emphasise the point, his veiled criticism was then repeated.

    Your last couple of sentences about Sky seem to be suggesting that they deserve to have doping accusations thrown at them because they clog car parks with their team buses (which I believe blew up when Madiot whinged to the French media rather than talking to Brailsford directly) and not having ‘respect’ for the race. If you really believe that the accusations are justified on that basis, you maybe need to examine your conscience.

  • markholds

    In my opinion, there is no doubt that the French media (particularly the sports media) are extremely anti-Sky, for whatever reason (a combination of reasons, I suspect). This inevitably rubs off onto sports fans in general. You have to remember that the majorityof the French population don’t know much about cycling, but follow the Tour because ‘that’s what you do.’
    However, most people I know found the treatment of Froome in particular pretty unpleasant. They were also pretty scathing about the fact that Jalabert (a doper who has never admitted it) was one of those who was most suspicious of Froome’s performance.

  • Pee Bee

    Why single out the urine incident as being representative of the French nation? The person in question may well have been French but one individual should not be taken as being typical of a nation. I question your logic regarding the use of the word “dopé”. In a sport dominated by words such as “bidon”, “peloton”, etc. it not unsual for fans of all nationalities to adopt other French expressions while at Le Tour. I assume that you have listened to or read a transcript of Monsieur Jalabert in the original French rather than relying on the subtle transformations of translation. If you watch French TV or listen to French radio you would have heard Chris Froome being interviewed in French in favourable circumstances. The problem for Froome and Team Sky is the way in which they treated Wiggo by not allowing him to defend his title, in effect “dissing” Le Tour. Not cricket! Nibali had more respect for the race and his team did not try to clog up hotel carparks with camping cars etc and bring in their own cleaners to clean the hotel rooms. Not very diplomatic.

  • Andrew Bairsto

    I have watched the Tour been there umpteen times since I was a small boy to see my Uncle in 1951 and except for a few occasions I have not seen any French bias they love a good cyclist riding for a good team but in mainland Europe the general opinion seems to be that Sky is the pits .

  • John Westwell

    The trouble is, the ‘fan’ who threw urine in Froome’s face was almost certainly French as he shouted ‘Dopé’. It seems unlikely anyone from another country would adopt a French term to shout abuse. And given that France 2/3 stoked up the fires with Laurent Jalabert (a famously unrepentant doper) and the interview that Brailsford was subjected to about power ratios, French viewers more than most would have had a steady drip, drip of insinuation that encouraged the abuse.

    My understanding is that a lot of French fans were embarrassed by the treatment he received at the hands of the French media, which led to a surge in support for Froome as the race went on. But Brailsford has a point. Nobody questioned Nibali last year about possible doping when he was dominating the Tour (much more so that Froome did this year), and Quintana seems to get a pretty easy ride for a man who spends much of his time outside Europe.

  • Pee Bee

    Sorry for the Freudian slip. I meant Sky rather than sly…. although…….

  • Pee Bee

    Can we stop this accusation of French fans being abusive towards Froome. My experince as a spectator living in France is that I was surprised as a non Froome non Sly supporter myself to see French spectators wearing Team Sky kit and cheering on Froome with Go Froome plackards. I was cheering other riders in French but I am not French. Don’t be misled. When in France cheer in French. Le Tour is mostly on French soil and is a French event but the spectators are truely international. In fact sometimes it is quite hard to find a native French speaker by the roadside. Don’t therefore jump to conclusions and blame French spectators. Allez Contador.

  • Bob

    I disagree with DB’s sentiment. everyone knows the French are biased and don’t like anyone but one of their own doing well in the TDF – I can even remember Eddy Merckx being punched when riding alongside Bernard Thevenet (goodness its 40 years ago lol) – Chris is a professional and knows he’s going to be targeted both on and off the bike, and all riders know they are under the spotlight for past riders drug taking sins, its a part of the modern scene, so id suggest its more of an inconvenience and annoyance rather than making it harder for him to win and he seems to shrug it off pretty well.