Tour de France: Chris Froome should compete without threat of violence - UCI president

Spectators wearing surgical masks and carrying a giant inhaler run alongside Chris Froome during his Giro d'Italia win in May
Spectators wearing surgical masks and carrying a giant inhaler ran alongside Chris Froome during his Giro d'Italia win

Four-time winner Chris Froome should be allowed to compete at the Tour de France without the threat of violence, says UCI president David Lappartient.

Froome is expecting "confrontation out on the road" at this year's Tour, which starts on Saturday, despite his anti-doping case being dropped.

The Briton, 33, was under investigation by cycling's world governing body but they closed proceedings on Monday.

"He has the right to operate in a safe environment," said Lappartient.

"I have heard calls, sometimes completely irrational, for violence on the Tour de France - I can not accept that."

"I call on all spectators to protect all the athletes and to respect the judicial decision so that Chris Froome can compete in a safe and serene environment like all other athletes," added Lappartient.

Froome was under investigation after more than the allowed level of legal asthma drug salbutamol was found in his urine at last year's Vuelta a Espana, which he won.

The World Anti-Doping Agency, which worked closely with the UCI, accepted there was no breach and recommended the case be dropped.

Tour de France organisers had said Froome taking part could "damage" the race but now say the UCI's decision means there is no reason to prevent his participation.

Froome said he had urine thrown at him during the 2015 Tour, and he was booed by fans when passing through rival Romain Bardet's home region last year.

A spectator carrying a giant inhaler ran alongside the Briton during the remarkable stage-19 victory that set up his Giro d'Italia win in May.

Last month, five-time champion Bernard Hinault - the last French winner of the race in 1985 - urged riders to strike in protest against Froome riding the Tour. Team Sky called Hinault's comments "irresponsible and ill-informed".

Froome, who is the reigning Tour de France, Vuelta and Giro champion, is bidding to move level with Eddy Merckx, Hinault, Jacques Anquetil and Miguel Indurain as the only five-time winners of the Tour.

He could also equal Merckx's record for a fourth Grand Tour win in a row.

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