Chris Froome (Team Sky) had little time to celebrate his Tour de France stage 10 victory today in La Pierre-Saint-Mart in the Pyrenees. After the podium celebrations, where he received a fresh Tour de France leader’s yellow jersey, he responded to questions about data hacking and doping.
Sky Principal David Brailsford told the press on Monday's rest day down the climb in Pau that Sky's data files were hacked. He warned that critics could use that to question whether his riders were racing clean.
Richie Porte launched Froome to the summit finish victory today near the border with Spain. Froome took 1-04 minutes on his nearest rival Nairo Quintana (Movistar) and pushed his lead to 2-52 over Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing). It was only the first of seven big finishes, but he had little time to reflect on it as questions came quickly after about the data hacking case.
"That's nuts, especially seeing as the data in question is over two years old," Froome said of the alleged 2013 Ventoux file that appeared online overnight.
"We're focused on the race. Nothing's going to deter us from that."
When the Kenya-born Brit raced to the win in 2013, he answered doping questions as well. As soon as he flew away from his rivals on Mont Ventoux, the doping allegation bombs fell. On the following rest day, he had to defend himself against critics that were questioning whether everything was as it appeared or if there was something more sinister behind his performances.
At the Tour, it seems that the more the win appears secured, the more allegations come.
"It's not difficult for me to stay cool. It would be a different story if I had something to hide. I know I'm a clean rider. I know I've worked extremely hard to be in this position. I'm really proud of that," Froome added.
"I do understand where the questions are coming from, the history of the sport and the people before me who have won the Tour. I am sympathetic, but at the same time there needs to be a certain level of respect also. I've worked extremely hard to get here. I'm not going to let anyone take that away from me."
The spotlight appeared more focused on Froome in 2013 in the wake of the Lance Armstrong scandal. He had a relatively calm ride towards this Tour de France, but the news of data hacking and a Ventoux video with power data overlaid ramped up the attention on the race's leader.
"What haven't I done?" said Froome.
"I've tried to be as much as a spokesman as I can for clean cycling. I've spoken to the CIRC, I've made suggestions to the governing body to implement things like night time testing. I've pointed out when I've felt there hasn't been enough testing, in places like Tenerife. What else is a clean rider supposed to do?"
Froome may be forced to search for those answers as the Tour continues with him leader's seat.
Chris Froome's 2015 Tour de France bike
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