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Chris Froome met with boos at Tour de France presentation as safety concerns grow

Froome and his team were not well received at the Tour pre-race presentation although his rivals are calling for calm. Image: ASO/Bruno Bade

Joe Robinson
6 Jul 2018

Tensions between Chris Froome (Team Sky) and the French crowd have already begun as the defending champion and his team were met with a chorus of jeers at the team pre-race presentation ahead of the Tour de France.

As Froome and his seven teammates approached the platform on Thursday evening in La Roche-sur-Yon, the finishing town for Stage 1 of the race, a hum of booing and jeering greeted the riders.

The abuse only became more prevalent when Froome was spoken to on stage with someone even shouting 'cheat'.

Froome then addressed the crowd, attempting to keep an upbeat persona, saying, 'It will be incredible if I am able to win my fifth Tour de France.

'I’ve got an amazing team here to support me and we’re going to give it everything we’ve got.'

As the four-time champion and his team left the stage they were again greeted with more booing. This was quite the contrast to the reception of home favourite Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale) who was received in a heroic manner.

The 27-year-old, who is looking to become the first Frenchman since Bernard Hinault in 1985 to win the Tour, did broach the Froome crowd issue asking for respect to be shown on the roadside.

'The decision has been made by the authorities and it is all about respecting that decision,' Bardet said.

'Respect by the riders, by the teams and also the public.'

Concerns surround the roadside crowd and their approach to Froome. The recent acquittal of Froome by the UCI for his adverse analytical finding for salbutamol has not sat well with certain sections of cycling and the worry is that these fans will express their anger at the Tour.

In the past, Froome and Team Sky have been the subject of verbal and physical abuse with former Sky rider Richie Porte even being punched at the 2015 Tour and this current situation suggests this could happen again.

UCI president David Lappartient also weighed in on the worries surrounding Froome's safety calling potential action as 'irrational'.

'I have heard calls, sometimes completely irrational, to violence on the Tour de France,' Lappartient said.

'I cannot accept that and I call on all spectators to protect all the athletes and to respect the judicial decision so that Chris Froome can compete in a safe and serene environment like all other athletes.'