VALENCE, France — Tour de France leader Geraint Thomas said being booed by the crowd did not affect him after he enjoyed a mainly comfortable Stage 13 Friday.
The Team Sky rider and yellow jersey holder repeated his call for spectators to let the riders race safely.
“I’d rather be on the podium and be booed than on the bus and be cheered,” the Welshman added.
Thomas won at the top of the iconic Alpe d’Huez on Thursday to tighten his grip on the race as Team Sky bid for a one-two finish in Paris. Sky is largely unpopular in France as their recent domination of the race revives memories of the rule of Lance Armstrong’s U.S. Postal in the early 2000s.
Four-times champion Froome is the main target for the French fans after he was cleared of a doping offence days before the start of the race. On Friday, a flare was tossed across the peloton with less than 20 kilometres to go.
“We were in a zone, fighting for position, I had no idea [that a flare was thrown],” said Thomas, a double track cycling Olympic champion.
Frenchman Romain Bardet, one of the main title contenders who lies fifth overall, said the Tour was a popular party and should remain so.
“We are very accessible and people coming by the side of the road should not ruin it,” the AG2R-La Mondiale rider said.
Italian Vincenzo Nibali was forced to abandon the race with a fractured vertebra on Thursday after he appeared to be touched by a spectator.
Tour de France race leader Geraint Thomas says that he is “99 per cent” confident that there is currently no doping in cycling, and that the success of himself and the rest of Team Sky is down to nothing more than hard training. Thomas leads the 2018 Tour de France over Team Sky team-mate Chris...
Team Sky manager Dave Brailsford has blamed the hostile roadside reaction his team have faced at the Tour de France on a ‘French cultural thing’ and suggested that the race omit non-French teams if they are not treated with more respect. Chris Froome and the rest of Team Sky have faced pockets of abuse, booing...