Fans continue to taunt Chris Froome at the Tour de France

24 July, 2018, 20:42 | Author: Malcolm Quinn
  • Jeff Pachoud  AFP  Getty Images

The pack of riders wait for the stage to resume, after tear gas was used during a farmers' protest, during the Tour de France cycling race, between Carcassonne and Bagneres-de-Luchon, southwestern France, July 24, 2018. Tour organizers said police used tear gas to move the protesters as the peloton approached.

The protest was aimed at France's Government, over cuts in state aid, according to the Tour de France's own race radio service.

It's not the first time protests have affected this year's Tour, though they had previously been aimed at Team Sky and its rider Chris Froome.

Peter Sagan of Slovakia celebrates as he crosses the finish line to win the 13th stage of the Tour de France.

Geraint Thomas signed autographs before the start of Sunday's stage, but some fans have booed the Sky rider in his yellow jersey.

Team Sky, and Thomas, had continually insisted that Froome was their team leader, but the tone has shifted in recent days and Froome on Monday said he would be happy to help Thomas if necessary. "It's basically up, down, up, down, up - 2 1/2 hours full gas racing", says Geraint Thomas, the Team Sky rider wearing the yellow jersey.

"As long as there is a Team Sky rider on the top step of the podium in Paris, I'm happy", Froome said.

The incident contributed to an underlying tension and uncertainty within the team as the Tour unfolded.

Jeff Pachoud  AFP  Getty Images
Jeff Pachoud AFP Getty Images

Froome was slapped by at least one fan and appeared to be spat at by another, before Vincenzo Nibali crashed after touching a spectator, fracturing a vertebrae to put him out of the race.

The question for Thomas is whether he can hold it all together over three weeks as we have now reached uncharted territory for the Welshman - a point he has been keen to make himself.

"I think cycling and the Tour de France have a credibility problem".

Dumoulin finished runner-up to Froome in the Giro last May when the Briton secured his third consecutive Grand Tour victory.

"I always kept a little back so I was able to respond if they attack", said the 25-year-old Cort Nielsen, who gave Astana back-to-back wins the day after teammate Omar Fraile claimed Stage 14.

A cloud had hung over Froome after a urine sample taken during the Spanish Vuelta in September showed a concentration of the asthma drug salbutamol that was twice the permitted level. "It's pointless, and he mustn't forget everything that France and the Tour de France have given him".

"I've said it before, but it's the first time I've raced for three weeks, as a GC (general classification) leader so it's a bit of an unknown", said Thomas, after he and Froome trailed home over 18 minutes behind Spanish stage victor Omar Fraile in Mende.


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