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Lessons from history haunt Froome’s Tour de France cruise

| 16.07.2015

Tour de France leader Chris Froome set off favourite with Ladbrokes to win Stage 12, having blitzed the rest of the peloton during Tuesday’s second mountain test, and the likelihood of the 2013 champion losing the yellow jersey seems stark at the halfway stage.

Froome is 1/10 to claim a third Tour de France general classification in four years for Britain, but the 30-year-old’s dominance has once again led to question marks over how clean cycling is.

Team Sky losing some of Froome’s performance data to hackers hasn’t exactly helped matters, although journalist David Walsh, who did as much as any in the media to eventually bring down Lance Armstrong, got behind the British-based outfit, stating there was no evidence of wrongdoing released.

Having taken a break from covering cycle prior to Armstrong finally being condemned for cheating in 2012, Walsh travelled with Team Sky during the 2012 and 2013 renewals of Le Tour, reporting back that it really was hard work winning out this time:

“I think if there’s one big thing, it’s the way Tim Kerrison trains them. I think his training is very different. All of the people that train under Kerrison say that training is much harder compared to other coaches. I think he has been revolutionary in the way he prepares them physically.

“The people that are with the team are generally high quality people. I never saw a Sky guy go for drinks after finishing work. They just don’t do it. But it happens at other teams.”

Some would argue that such endeavours from the highly-respected Sunday Times writer ought to have been the final words on the matter, but cycling has had too dirty a history to draw a line under drugs.

Long-time friend, journalist and ex-cyclist Paul Kimmage declared himself ‘insulted’ by Walsh’s attempts to call ‘the mob’ off Team Sky, adding that they have had ‘several fraught conversations’ regarding the 60-year-old’s defence of Froome.

Little comments tend to feed the beast on Le Tour, such as 6/1 second-favourite Nairo Quintana’s exasperated, (probably) innocent, but no doubt pointed quote following the Brit’s Stage 10 dominance:

“Froome’s superiority is implacable. He’s stronger than all of us.”

One factor in cycling’s favour is that the Tour de France isn’t getting too quick just yet, with Armstrong’s struck off 2002 time (82h 05′ 12″) still the sharpest ever, but Froome’s 2013 finish (83h 56′ 20″) is the fastest when taking out the brash Texan’s binned efforts.

Scrutiny will intensify this summer if he gets inside that. It’s not fair. It’s cycling.

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Iain Houten

Iain has been contributing pieces to various websites on an array of subjects, including sports, politics and art, for over four years. Despite blue being his favourite colour, the teams he supports all wear red.