Tour de France leader Chris Froome (Team Sky) has hit out at French TV pundit and former rider Laurent Jalabert on Twitter over claims he insinuated Froome was using performance-enhancing drugs.
Jalabert spoke to RTL radio after Froome’s victory to La Pierre-Saint-Martin on stage 10 of the Tour, saying that it was “surreal to see just how superior Froome is” and that his cadence was “so difficult to achieve that it leaves us speechless.” He also added that the large time gaps on that stage between Froome and his rivals “made me feel a bit uncomfortable.”
As noted in Sunday’s ITV report, Jalabert also used the phrase “on another planet” to describe the 2013 winner of the Tour, which stood out significantly as it was the headline used by French newspaper L’Equipe in 1999 to describe the performance of Lance Armstrong.
Froome had responded earlier this week to the comments of Jalabert and another former cyclist Cedric Vasseur by saying it was “quite rich coming from Jalabert and Vasseur to be commenting on my racing in such a way.”
Jalabert retroactively tested positive for EPO in 2004 from a 1998 sample, which was released after a French Senate Commission investigation into doping in 2013. The former ONCE rider acknowledged the positive test but maintained that he’d never deliberately taken banned substances.
ITV’s Matt Rendell confronted Jalabert at the Tour de France over both his comments on Froome and his own past, but the Frenchman refused to address the issues, saying there was “no problem” and denying he had said Froome’s performances were “verging on the ridiculous.”
Froome clearly took exception to the 46-year-old’s denial that he’d made the comments, posting this message on Twitter on Sunday evening.
The Team Sky leader also posted a video from Youtube of the ITV confrontation of Jalabert, which was uploaded by a user named ‘Michelle F’.
Jalabert is unlikely to respond on Twitter however, having tweeted only once since 2013, while Froome also thanked ITV and Rendell “for highlighting the issues I’m facing.”
Froome has attempted to stay cool under heavy questioning during this Tour de France, as well as intrusion from spectators on the road side, claiming a French spectator threw a cup of urine at him on stage 14.
Teammate Richie Porte was also the victim of abuse from the members of the public on the roadside, with the Australian saying he was punched in the ribs on the road to La Pierre-Saint-Martin on Tuesday.
“It really is a minority of people out there — some have been very irresponsible,” Froome said of the situation on Saturday.
“Those individuals know who they are. And it’s individuals, all the others have been fantastic and supportive. What those fans are doing, is not acceptable.”
Chris Froome’s Tour de France bike