How times have changed. No longer is the first rest day an opportunity to question Chris Froome about pharmaceuticals. These days the hot topic is motor doping.
In previous years, Froome’s dominance on early mountain stages has usually elicited at least one question about doping during Team Sky’s rest day press conference. This year, the fact that he has not yet put significant time into his rivals somehow gave rise to something similar – a suggestion that extra bike checks have somehow had an influence.
The Sun reports that Sir Dave Brailsford was greatly unimpressed.
“If someone is stupid enough to come here with a motor in their bike for sure they will get caught. Chris’s bike has been tested more than everyone else’s, we get tested every day. We actually had an email from the UCI saying thank you for being the most co-operative team out of everybody when it comes to bike checks and mechanical checking.”
Brailsford made it perfectly clear that he does not believe motor doping is likely to be a problem at the Tour de France.
“Finding an engine in a bike is a pretty simple thing to do in this day and age. The technology used to beam the television pictures up to the satellite is a lot more complex, and used on a day-to-day basis, than finding a bloody motor in a bike.”
Despite his firm hint that a Colombian fan keep his distance during stage eight, Froome said that he hadn’t experienced the same issues with roadside crowds as he has in previous years.
"The atmosphere out on the road has been fantastic and the crowds have been great," he said. "None of that silly nonsense we had last year at all so far – and I hope it stays that way."
Eurosport reports how Brailsford also feels that his team leader is handling himself differently these days when it comes to the extra scrutiny that goes hand-in-hand with leading the world’s biggest bikerace.
"Chris has matured a lot since he first competed for the Tour de France. He's a lot more comfortable with you guys [the press], he's more comfortable with himself. He's really matured. He's enjoying his racing as much as anybody. He's not lost anything performance-wise but he's just relaxed and got comfortable with everything that goes with it."
Froome’s next major engagement is likely to take place on the slopes of Mont Ventoux and the Kenyan-born Briton admitted to harbouring mixed feelings about the prospect after winning there in 2013.
"Ventoux was kind to me, but when I got to the top last time I had to get straight on to oxygen support I was so tired. It's a massive climb, one of the most iconic of this race and to win up there again would be unreal.
"But it's going to be pretty hard knowing there's a time trial the next day. It will be interesting to see who is going to go that deep for victory up there."