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MILAN (VN) — Chris Froome (Sky) said that his results, including an overall win at the Critérium du Dauphiné yesterday, are proof that cycling is changing in the post-Lance Armstrong era.
“The fact that I was able to finish ahead in the mountains and in the general classification means that the sport has changed in 10 years,” Froome told Reuters.
“Sport is going in the right direction. My results are proof of that.”
Froome has won nine times this season has and proved he is the red-hot favorite for the Tour de France starting June 29 in Corsica. After finishing second to teammate Bradley Wiggins last year, the Brit has bagged overall wins in the Tour of Oman, the Critérium International, the Tour de Romandie and the Dauphiné.
His only ‘failure’ was finishing second to Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) in Italy’s Tirreno-Adriatico stage race in March. Nibali zipped away on the wet Le Marche climbs and descents to distance Froome and snatch the leader’s blue jersey on the penultimate day. Froome was unable to overcome his 34-second deficit in the final stage, a short time trial.
During the Italian stage race, comments circulated that Sky raced like robots. The origin was unclear, but the intent was that Froome and his companions watched their power meters more than they followed their feelings.
Critics have made more sinister comparisons in the last 12 months, given Sky’s success with Wiggins and Froome. In last year’s Tour de France, Wiggins responded to questions that Sky raced like Armstrong’s U.S. Postal Service and Discovery Channel teams. They referred to its control in the mountains, riding as a lead-out train, but also to Armstrong and the team’s systematic doping.
Wiggins responded that he should not have to justify every performance and that he has a solid pedigree.
“I’m not some shit rider who has just came from nowhere,” Wiggins explained in a press conference. “I’ve been three times Olympic champion on the track. People have to realize what kind of engine you need to win an Olympic gold medal as an individual pursuiter. … It’s not like I’ve just come from nowhere. I’ve got an incredible pedigree behind me.”
Froome has enjoyed similar strong support on the way to his overall victories. Peter Kennaugh, Geraint Thomas, Richie Porte, and Vasil Kiryienka helped contribute to his Dauphiné win. Underlining Sky’s strength, Porte placed second overall.
Sky’s new Tour leader must now face the same questions. Without the changes — better controls and the biological passport — Froome explained that he would not be in his position.
With his latest win, Froome moved up the rankings to sit second in CQ Ranking and fourth in the UCI’s list. Sky leads the team rankings on both lists.
The comments, Froome said, only tarnished his and Sky’s work.
“I am sure that cycling has changed since that time,” Froome added yesterday. “All these Armstrong revelations were a blow to the squad. All cyclists are lumped together.”