Tour director calls for calm after Alpe d'Huez incidents

Hordes of fans cheered on Steven Kruijswijk as he rode alone up Alpe d'Huez

But their success is doing little to appease detractors.

Early reports, later backed up by Nibali, claimed he had collided with a police motorcycle.

Froome, who was reportedly spat at, also received a hearty slap on the back from an over-zealous fan.

The 2014 champion believed he may have touched a motorbike but television footage suggests he came into contact with a spectator on the right side of a narrow road that lacked barriers to protect the riders.

"We are very accessible and people coming by the side of the road should not ruin it", the AG2R-La Mondiale rider said.

"Months and months of waiting (for the anti-doping case to end) fueled the suspicion and it took its toll", said race director Christian Prudhomme, who informed Team Sky that Froome was not welcome at the Tour before he was cleared of doping. We will announce the reader's poll victor after Friday's stage 13.

The Kenyan-born Briton was in the anti-doping crosshairs after his "adverse, analytical finding" for the asthma drug salbutamol on his way to victory in the Tour of Spain a year ago.

So far, Froome has been downplaying any suggestion of fractures within the Team Sky bus.

Prudhomme said: "I heard the whistles on Alpe d'Huez, just as I did in the Vendée. Same for Froomey. The most important thing is the group is strong and we have the best position".

His reward for the day, which ended with a 10th place and a 53-second time loss, was limited to the combativity prize, but it was a ride that will go down as one of the most gutsy of the 2018 Tour de France. "Even if it's just an over-friendly backslap".

As a break of that size is wont to do, it gradually eroded, with Alaphilippe and then Pierre Rolland (Education First-Drapac) spending time out front until Kruijswijk took over on the second monster HC climb of the day, the Col de la Croix de Fer. There were two police motorbikes. The riders on the Tour, and champions of the Tour, must obviously be respected, as they are by the large majority of the public.

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