Tour leader Froome stays cool despite more drug questions

Chris Froome provided the Bastille Day fireworks on the Tour de France’s first mountain day with an explosive victory on stage 10 to La Pierre-Saint-Martin before asking what more he can do to prove he is riding clean.

Britain's Christopher Froome, wearing the overall leader's yellow jersey, rides breakaway to win the tenth stage of the Tour de France.

Froome’s lead over Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing) jumped from 12 seconds to almost three minutes after the 167-kilometre route from Tarbes.

During the 2013 Tour which he won, the 30-year-old Team Sky leader was subjected to sustained interrogations and his performances were pored over by critics, with some using data to justify their stance.

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Froome, who has always denied doping, can expect further inquisitions from a public sceptical after years of drug cheats winning the Tour following a stunning mountain stage win.

Froome ruthlessly attacked 6.4km from the summit finish of the first hors categorie (beyond category) climb to surge to a fifth Tour stage success of his career.

“What haven’t I done? I’ve tried to be as much as a spokesman as I can for clean cycling,” Froome said.

“I’ve spoken to the CIRC (Cycling Independent Reform Condition), 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 was composed in answering, but he understands why the line of questioning was employed.

“It’s not difficult for me to stay cool,” Froome added.

“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. It doesn’t make me angry.

“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.”

Van Garderen is two minutes 52 seconds behind in second place, Nairo Quintana (Movistar) is now third, 3mins 09secs adrift, Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) fourth, 4:01 behind and Froome’s team-mate Geraint Thomas is fifth, 4:03 back.

Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) is 6:57 behind in 10th place, his hopes of a successful defence of his Tour title apparently over.

Many have anointed Froome his successor, but the Kenya-born Briton insists the race to Paris on July 26 is not yet over.

“I certainly wouldn’t want to be in the position that some of my rivals are in right now,” Froome added.

“I wouldn’t want to be trying to make up those kind of time gaps.

“But the Tour is not over. We’ve only done one mountain. It’s a long way to go.

“When we got up to that last climb and we heard the big names that were struggling and getting dropped I turned to the guys that were with me – Woet Poels, Richie Porte, Geraint Thomas – I just said, ‘Guys come on, let’s push on here, there’s guys in trouble, obviously struggling after the rest day’.

“The guys lifted the pace and set it up for me so that I could attack still while the gradient was still quite steep, with about 5.5km before it started flattening out a bit.

“And just a dream, dream scenario to hear all those big guys getting dropped and to be able to ride away like that, in the yellow jersey.

“I really couldn’t have asked for it to go any better.”

Team Sky principal Sir Dave Brailsford on Monday’s rest day alleged the British squad has been the victim of computer hacking by critics convinced Froome is using performance-enhancing drugs.

Froome said: “That’s nuts, especially seeing as the data in question is over two years old.

“We’re focused on the race. Nothing’s going to deter us from that. We’ve got a job to do here and that starts with tomorrow’s stage.”