Monday 24 October 2016

Froome charge 'wildly wrong'

Sky release power data in bid to disprove doping suspicions

Chris Froome insists he and his Sky team are trying to be as open and transparent as possible
Chris Froome insists he and his Sky team are trying to be as open and transparent as possible

Team Sky released some of Chris Froome's power data yesterday as they seek to put to bed doping suspicions ahead of four gruelling Tour de France stages in the Alps.

Froome's humiliation of his rivals in the first mountain stage a week ago raised questions and a French doctor of physiology suggested on French TV that the Briton's estimated power output could only been associated with riders who had relied on banned substances in the past.

Pierre Sallet's estimation of 425 watts for 71 kilos (5.98 watts per kilo) does not meet the actual data released by Team Sky's head of athlete performance.

At 5.78 watts per kilo, as per Sky's data, Froome, who said on Monday he weighs 67-68 kilos, produced around 390 watts in the climb to La Pierre St Martin - much less than claimed by Sallet, who also deduced Froome's maximal aerobic power was 7.04 watts per kilo.

"What (TV channel) France 2 did, putting out that headline - seven watts per kilo, a picture of Lance Armstrong and a picture of (Jan) Ullrich - that was so wildly wrong on so many levels that we thought we should just correct that and give the concrete facts and give the evidence so hopefully people could judge for themselves," said Team Sky boss Dave Brailsford.

Froome, however, was not sure releasing the data would end the debate surrounding his performances.

"I'm not sure if numbers are going to fix everything, but certainly I feel as a team and myself, we're definitely trying to be as open and transparent as possible," he said.

On the climb up La Pierre St Martin, where his pedalling frequency made a huge impression, Froome beat Nairo Quintana of Colombia by almost one minute.

Overall, Froome leads second-placed Quintana by 3:10 with American Tejay van Garderen 22 seconds further behind. Two Spaniards, Alejandro Valverde and Alberto Contador are in fourth and fifth, more than four minutes off the pace.


But the stages in the Alps feature long ascents and tricky descents, which is to make for some exciting racing as the long climbs suit Quintana, Valverde and Contador -- with the Spaniards likely to push the limits in the downhills.

"We're here to race and racing is a human endeavour. It's not a set of numbers on a spreadsheet, it is not a power meter. It is about racing," Brailsford said.

"There's a human aspect to it. That's why we all love bike racing. And we're going to go out and try to win this bike race."

Today's 17th stage is a 161-km trek from Digne Les Bains to Pra Loup, with the dangerous descent from the Col d'Allos and the final climb, where in 1975 the great Eddy Merckx cracked under the pressure of Frenchman Bernard Thevenet.

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