Team Sky's bus is under constant police guard after attacks on the riders at the Tour de France, but Chris Froome says he is only thinking about the yellow jersey

If Chris Froome began the Tour de France as one of four favourites for the general classification, it now feels as if he is on his own as public enemy number one.

The French police have grown in numbers around Sky’s leader. Amid the usual crowd of fans and journalists, four to five armed officers have stood guard, alert for would-be troublemakers over the last three days.

The protection is in response to attacks on the team. A fan threw urine on Froome yesterday, some spat on Luke Rowe and Richie Porte, and one punched Porte on Tuesday en route to his second place behind Froome at La Pierre-Saint-Martin.

“I’m not afraid,” Froome said after the 15th stage to Valance today. “I’m focused on the bike race. I’ve got a job to do here.”

Police watch the crowd as Team Sky complete their warm-up in Mende (Brown)

Police watch the crowd as Team Sky complete their warm-up in Mende (Brown)

In the heat of Mende on Sunday morning, Froome, Porte and other team-mates rode on their trainers outside Sky’s black bus. Besides the Tour de France workers in green shirts, police officers with pistols at their waist scanned the crowd.

A similar scene was found at the finish 183 kilometres later.

“If you look at any big sporting event – you look at tennis, any big event, football – there are police all over those events, especially when fans start getting more involved in the event than they should do,” Froome said.

“I don’t think it’s that bizarre when there are police around in the morning when we’re warming up or leaving the buses.”

Sky's Leopold Konig negotiates the crowd on stage ten of the Tour de France (Watson)

Sky’s Leopold Konig negotiates the crowd on stage ten of the Tour de France (Watson)

The beauty of cycling, however, is that the sport is played out on open roads and fans are close. Sky’s riders may feel safer at the starts and finishes, but between, nothing protects them from people who would potentially cause harm.

“It’s not for me to say what security is needed. The organisation puts on the event. It’s their responsibility to keep the riders safe,” Froome added. “From the riders’ point of view, we just want a safe race and all the athletes are looked after in an appropriate manner.”

Froome repeated that it was a minority of people causing trouble on the roads. Today, he explained that the “atmosphere on the road was fantastic”.

“[The trouble is] certainly not going to sour the yellow jersey if I do make it to Paris in the yellow jersey,” he said. “This is something myself and my team have worked extremely hard for and nothing’s going to change how amazing it would be to win this if we do get that far.”

 

  • Ambientereal

    Those fans believe they are ruining Froome´s race, actually they indeed do, but they are also ruining the Tour the France and even the whole cycling sport. All authorities, even UCI should take part to make clear that Froome is being meticulously controlled like all other riders, and that there is no suspicion about the use of drugs.

  • reece46

    Just run the race outside France with a Grand Depart that lasts 20 days until Paris. Everybody prefers the foreign festival atmosphere to the French apathy/hostility.

  • Alan

    Chris Froome is a cert for a career in someone’s diplomatic service when he hangs up his cleats; I submit that most of us would have been spitting feathers at what’s gone on.