Froome: Cycling’s doping past won’t overshadow Tour triumph

(CNN) — It’s tough at the top.

Having ridden over 3,400 kilometers in the world’s greatest cycling race, beating all his rivals into the ground to claim the Tour de France’s yellow jersey, Chris Froome barely has time to celebrate his victory before he is fielding the questions about doping.

“I don’t believe it has taken away anything from my victory,” Kenya-born Froome, who rides for Team Sky, told CNN in Paris.

“It’s something I’ve been prepared to take on given the revelations of the last year and the tainted past that cycling has it.”

Cycling’s “tainted past” is a reference to the way the sport has been dragged through the mud by allegations of drug taking and the admission by seven-time winner Lance Armstrong that the American doped to win the Tour.

Armstrong’s public confession sent shock waves through the sport and Froome himself was forced to endure a barrage of questions about his own performances following his victory on the Mont Vertoux stage.

The furore surrounding Froome’s performance led to Team Sky allowing French newspaper L’Equipe to see data from 18 of the rider’s climbs since he made his breakthrough in 2011 at the Tour of Spain.

It was only after the newspaper’s sports science expert, Fred Grappe, was allowed to examine the results, that it was established that they were consistent with doping-free riding.

“It was expected that I’d come under such scrutiny,” added Froome. “Whoever had been wearing the yellow jersey would’ve been under the microscope.

“I’m glad I was able to take on the questions — I know what I’ve done to get here and I’ve nothing to hide and I’m more than happy to show people.”

Overwhelmed with emotion

More encouragingly for cycling’s future, Froome believes this year’s race has marked a watershed for the sport in the outlook of the riders.

“This Tour de France has been a big step in the mentality of the peloton — it’s very clear that doping won’t be accepted and anyone who does break the rules, it’s just not going to fly, it just won’t happen.

“It’s been good to see the public and the sponsors get angry. It’s not part of cycling anymore.”

Froome is the second Briton and Team Sky rider to win the Tour in consecutive years following Bradley Wiggins’ triumph 12 months ago.

The 28-year-old Froome crossed the line arm-in-arm with his teammates following the final stage in Paris — taking in the acclaim of a huge crowd which had lined the streets to greet him.

“It was amazing, it was really amazing,” said Froome.

“I had expected to be big with thousands of fans, which there were, but you can’t prepare yourself for that feeling of coming on to the Champs Elysees for the first time wearing the yellow jersey sitting behind your teammates.

“I just felt absolutely overwhelmed with emotion and could feel myself tearing up.

“The feeling that this has been such a hard battle of preparing for months and that each day in the Tour has had its own challenges and difficulties that we have dealt with as a team.

“To have come through it the way we did with the yellow jersey was an amazing feeling.”

Froome’s celebrations will not last long with the champion set to take part in a 100 kilometer circuit race in Belgium Monday — but for now, he will savor his achievement after starting out as a dreamer on the dirt tracks of Nairobi.

“I first started watching cycling as a teenager for the first time on television. And I thought right I’d love to get there one day. To be here in the yellow jersey is a dream come true.”

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