MOUILLERON-LE-CAPTIF, France (AP) — Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme urges fans to “keep both feet on the ground” when four-time champion Chris Froome rides by.
Freshly cleared of doping, the Team Sky rider was booed at by the crowd at the Tour teams presentation on Thursday. The race starts on Saturday in the Vendee region.
Prudhomme says, “We need to tell the people whistling that it is stupid and that it is useless. … I’m calling for serenity. I want to see people encouraging their champion with both feet on the road, keeping quiet when [riders] they don’t like ride past them.”
A cloud 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.
The Tour informed Froome he wasn’t welcome until the UCI announced on Monday that Froome’s result did not represent an adverse finding on advice from the World Anti-Doping Agency.
Prudhomme adds, “The Tour de France is 3,500 kilometers of smiles. The audience is hyper familial. And let’s put that in perspective. At any football game, when the opposing team arrives, or in a basketball venue when a shooter takes a free throw, or in rugby when a player takes a penalty, we hear the same things.”
Froome is aiming to join Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain as the only riders to win the Tour five times.
Froome wrote an editorial published in French newspaper Le Monde on Friday explaining the complexities of his case.