Nairo Quintana speaks on emotional Tour de France

andrewbinner 22/07/2015
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Movistar riders Nairo Quintana and Alejandro Valverde assess the 2015 Tour de France so far on  the final rest day in Gap, France.









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Tour de France interest rockets in the United Arab Emirates

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According to Repucom, 20% of the UAE follows the Tour de France.

Interest in the Tour de France is growing worldwide despite cycling’s battle with doping, but the host nation is bucking trend, according to a study that has been released.

France is a rare country where interest in the Tour has fallen over the past three years, according to the Repucom sports data company.

Globally, though, there has been a rise, with 23 percent of people saying they follow Tour news, up from 20 percent in 2012.

Repucom said it polled 11,000 people across 11 countries, covering adults and teenagers in the general population. It found France was the only country to record a drop, from 33 per cent of the population in 2012 to 32 percent now.

In the United States, home of shamed former champion Lance Armstrong, interest has grown four percentage points to 18 percent of the population.

In Britain, where current leader Chris Froome comes from, the rise is one percentage point to 22 percent. The Netherlands and Spain have the highest interest at 38 percent.

– Related: Froome refuses to let critics ruin dream
– #360view: Armstrong legacy has lead to Froome questions
– Team Sky: Brailsford calls for action over Froome allegations

The Spanish market is stable from 2012 but in the Netherlands, the rise is three percentage points.

In Italy, home of reigning champion Vincenzo Nibali, the figure has risen eight percentage points to 30 percent of the population.

In new markets such as the United Arab Emirates, interest has rocketed 14 percentage points to 20 percent, the study said.

According to Repucom, the popularity rise can also be seen among commercial backers undeterred by the sport’s drug problems.

The race, which finishes in Parisy, now has five top-level sponsors.

“Following the doping scandals that rocked cycling over the last 10 years, we are now seeing that the sport is turning a corner, in terms of fan popularity and in terms of sponsorship,” said Repucom market research vice president Mike Wragg.

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Chris Froome refuses to let critics ruin 'dream position'

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Froome has faced a barrage of doping accusations.

Chris Froome says he is in a dream situation at the Tour de France despite the furore surrounding his performances which prompted Team Sky to release performance data.

The 30-year-old has an advantage of three minutes 10 seconds over Nairo Quintana (Movistar) ahead of today’s first of four stages in the Alps, to Pra Loup.

The 2013 champion has been subjected to innuendo and interrogations over his dominant win in the first Pyrenees stage to La Pierre-Saint-Martin on Stage 10, with host broadcaster France 2 among those to seek expert analysis, but he insists he races clean.

The clamour for Froome’s actual figures led to Team Sky principal Sir Dave Brailsford inviting head of performance Tim Kerrison to reveal the real numbers behind the display on the race’s second rest day.

“It really has been more of a sideshow than anything else,” Froome said.

“My focus has been on the race. This is the dream position, to be four racing stages away from the Champs-Elysees (on Sunday) with a decent advantage over most of my rivals. Nothing is going to detract from that.”

Froome is uncertain if the data release will convince everyone of the legitimacy of his performances.

“I’m not sure if numbers are going to fix everything, but certai-nly I feel as a team and myself, we’re definitely trying to be as open and transparent as possible,” he added.

Brailsford insisted performance data would not be released every time Froome beat the field and expects the attention not to detract from the Kenya-born Briton’s desire to win this week.

– Le Tour: Alberto Contador insists Tour is not over yet
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– #360view: Armstrong legacy has lead to Froome questions
– Team Sky: Brailsford calls for action over Froome allegations

Brailsford added: “We’re here to race and racing is a human endeavour. It’s not a set of numbers on a spreadsheet, it’s not a power meter.

“I’m sure if Chris feels that he can attack and he could go and leave everybody behind, it would be a travesty, I think, if he had any doubt in his mind thinking ‘oh, I better not’. And I know he won’t. That’s what we should do: continue to race in a clean and pure fashion.”

Team Sky understand why questions are asked due to cycling’s drug-riddled past. Froome won the 100th Tour and first since Lance Armstrong was exposed as a drug cheat and stripped of his record seven titles.

Brailsford was shocked when he appeared on France 2 on Sunday and was shown a video of Pierre Sallet, a doctor of physiology, calculating Froome’s power in watts per kilo on La Pierre-Saint-Martin.

Sallet made a calculation of 7.04 watts per kilo, which he claimed is “abnormally high” and Team Sky contest was “wildly wrong”.

That prompted Brailsford’s decision to disclose the actual figures, with Kerrison revealing a reading of 5.78 watts per kilogram.

“If you are going to present something on TV, to a nation, then you do have an obligation to get your facts right,” Brailsford added.

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