RBA/AFP Photos: Bettini
Yellow jersey holder Geraint Thomas brushed off suggestions he and Chris Froome were targeted by fans on the Tour de France 14th stage days after being booed and spat at by irate fans on Alpe d’Huez. Welshman Thomas, a former Olympic track cycling champion, suffered the indignity of being booed off the podium when he won the second of back-to-back stages in the high Alps to take his lead over four-time champion and teammate Froome to 1:39.
On the second of those days, Froome was spat at and was lucky not to crash after one fan slapped him heavily on the back as he raced the 13.8 kilometer ascent to the summit. Race officials have since called on fans to “respect the riders” in the peloton. But Team Sky’s domination, and controversy involving the British team in
the lead-up to the Tour, has led to a backlash.
As Thomas and Froome raced to the finish line in Mende, 18 minutes behind Spanish stage winner Omar Fraile, insults — and liquid from a bottle or cup — were thrown in Froome’s direction. The scene could have been reminiscent of 2015, when a fan called Froome a “doper” as he threw a cup of urine in his face. But Thomas played the incident down. “I don’t actually recall it, but I’m not surprised,” he said. “We’ve had a bit of that (abuse) … but it’s always been water. I wouldn’t know what it was.”