Among the many banners that spectators hung on the switchbacks to l’Alpe d’Huez was one that read: “Froome dope.”
“I believe in cycling and I don’t think there are many cheats left,” Riblon said. “What I want most of all is to eradicate suspicion. Honestly, I don’t really understand why the yellow jersey [Froome] is being put on trial ... He doesn’t deserve this. When harm is done to the yellow jersey, the whole of cycling is hurt.”
To combat suspicion, Froome’s team released his performance data from six races, including this Tour, to French sports newspaper L’Equipe. The newspaper reported on Thursday that it had an outside expert analyze the data — including how much power Froome generated and his climbing times on 18 ascents — and that he found “no anomalies.”
L’Equipe, owned by Tour organizers ASO, said Sky Pro Cycling also told the newspaper that Froome has had 48 anti-doping tests this year, including 19 so far at the Tour before Thursday’s stage.
“The team owns all that data and the team made the decision to release that data, but, yeah, I’m really happy to hear their findings and to hear their take on it and, basically, backing us up to say that these performances are very good, strong, clean sporting performances,” Froome said. “I know what I’m doing is right and I’m extremely proud of what I’ve done to get here. So no one can take that away from me.”
Having barely put a foot wrong for more than two weeks, Froome ran short of energy on the second ascent to l’Alpe d’Huez, slowing suddenly as he sought assistance from his team.
“It’s a horrible feeling,” Froome said of the sugar-low.
Porte dropped back to their team car to fetch an energy bar, rode back and handed it over to Froome. That cost both of them a 20 second time penalty because food supplies were not allowed that late in the stage.
Still, Froome still had plenty of time to spare, even more than he started the day with.
After his aggressive downhill from Sarenne, Contador labored on the last uphill. He finished 11th. Froome was seventh.
Froome’s overall lead grew to 5 minutes, 11 seconds over Contador. Colombian Nairo Quintana moved up to third overall, 5:32 behind Froome, who was just three days away from becoming the second successive British winner after last year’s champion Bradley Wiggins.