Team Sky escorts Chris Froome to keep Tour de France lead
Tour de France leader Chris Froome understands those who harbour doubts about his dominant performances in a sport long marred by doping. Maybe, he says, it’s time to bring in an independent specialist to test his body and help prove that he’s riding clean.
The 30-year-old Briton cruised through a second day in the Pyrenees mountains on Wednesday, finishing more than five minutes behind Stage 11 winner Rafal Majka of Poland but keeping his main rivals in check.
The bumpy, grueling ride under a hot sun came a day after Froome blew away the pack, prompting new suspicions about doping. Ironically, it came as Lance Armstrong — who was stripped of seven consecutive Tour titles — was to return to French roads nearby, even though he’s persona non grata at the Tour de France.
Armstrong was to take part in charity rides Thursday and Friday to raise money to fight leukemia, taking the same route that Tour riders will cover a day later.
Froome brushed off Armstrong’s visit as a “non-event’’, noting that “he’s not on the start line with us.’’
However, Armstrong’s presence is a reminder that any Tour leader can expect to come under at least some suspicion. To deal with that, Froome is willing to take testing even further.
“I’m open-minded to potentially doing some physiological testing at some point after the Tour, or at whatever point suits,’’ the Briton said. “Obviously, there would be some interesting things that come out of it, and maybe as a team we might even learn something from it.’’