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.
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“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.”