Chris Froome thought he was having a bad day after his Tour de France chances took a massive hit in a gruelling 17th stage of the famous race – then it got worse.
After Froome donned a raincoat for warmth on the ride down the mountain to the Team Sky bus an over-zealous police officer confused the four-time Tour de France winner for a fan and knocked him off his bike to try to stop him.
Froome then had an angry exchange with the officer, before riding away. The incident was later described as a mix-up.
“It was a misunderstanding. Chris is fine,” a Team Sky spokesman said.
Its the latest in a string of issues for Froome in his bid to defend his Tour de France title.
He is racing despite a looming potential ban after testing positive for double the permitted level of salbutamol at last year’s Vuelta a Espana and has been regularly spat on this year. Fans have also tried to push him off his bike.
In addition to the frosty reception, Froome also needed medical attention on stage 16 after he was one of many riders hit with tear gas police had aimed at protesters.
Froome muy enfadado después de que un gendarme lo tire al suelo en el descenso tras la finalización de la etapa. El policía confunde al británico con un amateur. Enfado y de los gordos. #sky #teamsky #froome #chrisfroome #letour #letourdefrance #etapa17 #stage17 #gendarmerie #colduportet #crash #caida #quintana #nairo @cyclingtips @team_sky_procycling @chrisfroome @ciclismoafondo_oficial @letourdefrance @eurosport @sprintcycling
A post shared by Marc Visa Romero (@marcvisa14) on
Froome lost significant time on race leader and Team Sky teammate Geraint Thomas in the 17th stage as he battled on a 65-kilometre stage from Bagneres-de-Luchon to Saint-Lary-Soulan that had three major climbs.
With four stages remaining, Froome is two minutes and 31 seconds behind Thomas, in third position. Sunweb’s Tom Dumoulin is second, one minute and 59 seconds off the pace.
Froome said after the stage that his role was now to support Thomas – a major shift in team philosophy.
But Sky team principal Dave Brailsford said it would be foolish to discount Froome.
“You can never write Chris off,” he said. “His powers of recovery are fantastic. We’ve seen him do it time and time again, so I wouldn’t be writing him off in any shape or form.”
Brailsford said that there had been no problems between Froome and Thomas, despite both riders having been in contention for general classification.
“It’s an interesting dynamic but these two guys deserve so much credit for the way they have handled themselves,” he said.
“I haven’t had to manage them at all. They have worked it out for themselves, and that takes some doing.
“But they are so experienced now, and they have been round the block so many times, they don’t get distracted by anything.”