Froome came under fire from local fans packed along the final stage 15 climbs leading to Le Puy-en-Velay in the Massif Central.
“It’s to be expected if it is basically the home stage of Bardet,” Froome said of Bardet, who leads the Ag2r La Mondiale team and comes from the town of Brioude close to the route of stage 15.
“So it’s understandable that all the locals here support him. The support [for me] has been great so far, and I want to thank the people who’ve come out already.”
Bardet’s team pushed the pace high on the category one Col de Peyra Taillade to put Froome and their other rivals in trouble. They kept going when Froome suffered a mechanical, and after the Brit had regained contact Bardet attacked.
Watch: Tour de France stage 15 highlights
Froome in his chase back heard some of the locals’ boos and insults, but persisted them distract from his chase. He and Team Sky brushed them aside and applauded the fans’ enthusiasm throughout the Tour.
“I think that it’s to be expected the support for him,” Froome said. “But the French have been going so well with the stage wins with Warren Barguil and Romain Bardet, and Bardet here fighting for the overall win. I think it’s great that the fans are getting so into it and involved.”
Froome embraced the fans despite the insults. He charmed them and the home country more by speaking in French to local journalists after the stage, as he has done since this race began in Düsseldorf.
The feeling is much more easygoing for the British super team in France this year. Gone are the days when armed policeman stood guard outside the team’s bus, with fans throwing urine at the riders.