Spectator abuse of Team Sky continues on Col du Portet

Sky's problems with spectators at this year's Tour de France continued Wednesday on the slopes of the Col du Portet.

Photo: Getty Images

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COL DU PORTET, France (VN) — Sky’s problems with spectators at this year’s Tour de France continued Wednesday on the slopes of the Col du Portet.

Photos and video surfaced online, showing both race leader Geraint Thomas and Chris Froome having separate and unrelated tussles with people standing along the roadside. In one incident, a fan leaned over the barriers and grabbed Thomas by his right arm in the waning kilometers of the race. Thomas kept his bike upright and surged ahead to finish third on the stage. Images of the incident appeared on Instagram account of user beardmcbeardy.

In another incident, Chris Froome was descending from the summit of the climb to the team busses after the stage while wearing a grey windbreaker; a French police officer mistook him for a fan and attempted to stop him. In the ensuing interaction, Froome fell off of his bicycle. Images of the incident appeared on Twitter, from the user Albert Secall.

A Sky team source confirmed both incidences occurred, and said that Froome was uninjured in the fall. “He’s completely fine,” the team source said.

The team source said the team would not comment on either incident. Neither Thomas nor Froome mentioned the matter in their respective post-race interviews with the media.

The run-ins come after two weeks of fan interference at the Tour, much of which has been aimed at Team Sky.

From the start, the British team received boos at the team presentation in Noirmoutier-en-l’Île, and Froome has also been booed at the sign-in ceremony each morning. On stage 5 in Lorient, a fan stood outside the bus with a sign that read “Sky go home.” Domestique Luke Rowe approached the fan and took the sign away, placing it on the ground.

Fans continued their abuse on the slopes of l’Alpe d’Huez. A spectator shoved Froome as he climbed the 21 hairpins on the way to the summit — French TV broadcast the incident. A Sky bus driver said fans threw a bucket of water through his open window as he drove up the climb before the race.

A day later another roadside spectator lobbed a yellow smoke bomb into the peloton on the route to Valence. On stage 14, fans sprayed Froome with water on the final climb to the airfield above Mendé.

On Monday team principal David Brailsford addressed the abuse, saying that it may be the result of “a French cultural thing.”

“I don’t think it’s going to stop, I’m not too optimistic on that front,” Brailsford said. “It’s challenging, we accept it, we just have to make a decision as to how to behave. We’re trying not to react. We have a mindset where we don’t get distracted by it.

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