The Brit suffered from an infection in the final week of the race in July but still secured the yellow jersey nevertheless. Froome was on the receiving end of hostility during the race after members of the French media questioned whether his performances have been clean.
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As such, the two-time Tour winner was unwilling to risk further scrutiny and criticism by applying for strong medication to combat his illness.
“After everything we had been through in this year’s Tour, especially the hostility from different people along the way, it just felt that if we go down this route, we are opening the door for a whole new wave of criticism and aggression. It would have been within the rules, but I didn’t want it to be the Tour de France that was won because he took this medication in the last week,” Froome told the Sunday Times.
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Froome reportedly even resorted to holding his breath when riding near his rivals in an attempt to stifle his coughs.
“[I] woke up all congested, blocked up, sore throat and I could feel it getting down into my chest, sort of tightening it. I was put on a short course of antibiotics but it had no effect. I was trying to hold it in, so my rivals wouldn’t hear me coughing and wheezing . . . the most difficult times were on the start line where I had [Nairo] Quintana on one side, Contador on the other,” Froome explained.
“I would be standing there with a burning sensation to cough or needing to get some phlegm up, but I would hold my breath to stop myself. I didn’t want them to see I was battling with this. Just don’t let them see anything. I couldn’t wait for the neutral zone so I could get to the side of the road, blow my nose and get it all up.”
Team Sky and Froome came under intense scrutiny for their use of TUEs during the 2014 season, when it was claimed that the UCI fast tracked an application from the Brit at the Tour de Romandie when he was also suffering from an infection.
Brian Cookson promised the UCI would strengthen its TUE procedures after the incident, although he confirmed that nothing untoward occurred.