Tour director hits out at reporting as Sky guarded by police

Sun Jul 19, 2015 9:39am EDT
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By Julien Pretot

MENDE, France (Reuters) - Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme blamed the media for aggression aimed at yellow jersey holder Chris Froome as the Briton's Team Sky were protected by police before the start of Sunday's 15th stage.

Froome had urine thrown at him by a spectator on Saturday, four days after his Sky team mate Richie Porte was punched during the first mountain stage of the three-week race.

Froome said "irresponsible" reporting caused the incidents, a view shared by Prudhomme.

"There is a correlation between what is said in the papers, on TV, on the radio, and what happens by the side of the road," Prudhomme told reporters ahead of Sunday's 183-km ride between Mende and Valence.

Doping suspicions have been aired after Froome humiliated his main rivals in the first Pyrenean stage, with French TV pundit Laurent Jalabert, a former Vuelta winner, saying the Briton's performance made him feel uneasy.

"They set the tone and people believe what they see in the media," said Froome.

In 2013, a French senate investigation revealed that Jalabert had failed a retroactive test for the banned blood booster EPO in 1998. Jalabert never confessed to doping.

Five police officers were guarding Team Sky's bus before the start, though no incident occurred.   Continued...

Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme looks on at the finish line after the 159,5 km (99 miles) third stage of the 102nd Tour de France cycling race from Anvers to Huy, Belgium, July 6, 2015. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini