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Sunday 4 December 2016

Chris Froome Tour de France victory: I will honour yellow jersey

Team Sky rider Chris Froome of Britain (C), the race leader's yellow jersey, celebrates his overall victory on the podium with Tinkoff-Saxo rider Peter Sagan of Slovakia (L), best sprinter's green jersey holder, and Movistar rider Nairo Quintana of Colombia, best young rider's white jersey holder, after the109.5-km (68 miles) final 21st stage of the 102nd Tour de France cycling race from Sevres to Paris Champs-Elysees, France, July 26, 2015. REUTERS/Stephane Mantey/Pool
Team Sky rider Chris Froome of Britain (C), the race leader's yellow jersey, celebrates his overall victory on the podium with Tinkoff-Saxo rider Peter Sagan of Slovakia (L), best sprinter's green jersey holder, and Movistar rider Nairo Quintana of Colombia, best young rider's white jersey holder, after the109.5-km (68 miles) final 21st stage of the 102nd Tour de France cycling race from Sevres to Paris Champs-Elysees, France, July 26, 2015. REUTERS/Stephane Mantey/Pool

Chris Froome pledged to honour the Tour de France yellow jersey after claiming a second title in Paris.

The 30-year-old Team Sky leader made a veiled reference to the critics of his performance over a turbulent three weeks which saw Froome called a 'doper', doused in urine and spat at.

The climate of suspicion is a legacy of the drug-assisted era of cycling, but Froome insists he is clean after finishing one minute and 12 seconds ahead of Nairo Quintana (Movistar).

"The maillot jaune is special, very special," Froome said in his victory speech by the Champs-Elysees.

"I understand its history, good and bad, and I will always respect it, never dishonour it and I'll always be proud to have won it."

Froome's first Tour title came in the 100th edition in 2013 and first since Lance Armstrong was stripped of his record seven titles.

Then he was subject to scrutiny and insisted his yellow jersey would "stand the test of time" - a reference to the cheating of Armstrong and the American's contemporaries.

The innuendo and interrogations resumed for Froome as he reclaimed the title after crashing out of the 2014 race with a fractured hand and broken wrist.

Asked what honouring the yellow jersey meant to him, Froome told ITV4: "It's pretty straightforward: In this day and age I feel someone needs to speak up for the cyclists of 2015 and of course I'm happy to do that.

"I'm in this position now. Someone's got to take a stand, it's time."

Sir Dave Brailsford says those looking for evidence of doping at Team Sky might as well be by the banks of Loch Ness looking for a monster.

Froome's win was Team Sky's third in four years, after Sir Bradley Wiggins' first British success in 2012.

Froome's win was based on his dominant win on stage 10 to La Pierre-Saint-Martin, which provoked his detractors.

Brailsford approved the release of Froome's performance data from the opening Pyrenees stage, but that did not satisfy the accusers, for whom the Team Sky principal has a message.

"They should go and spend their time sitting at the side of Loch Ness and waiting for a monster. It's the same thing," Brailsford said.

"We have still got people camping outside with binoculars saying, 'I'm sure we are going to see the monster tomorrow', but it never appears.

"You can't prove him negative, but there is a weight of evidence to show that we are doing it the right way, we are a clean team and Chris Froome is just a fantastic champion."

Froome added: "There's not much I really could say to them. I think their minds are already made up. I'm not super human like they make out."

Andre Greipel won the concluding stage on the Champs-Elysees, claiming his fourth win of the Tour as Mark Cavendish finished sixth.

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