Team Sky boss Sir Dave Brailsford has criticised UCI president David Lappartient, suggesting he still has mentality of a local French mayor who is struggling to get a handle on his responsibilities.
Brailsford has been left frustrated by Lappartient’s handling of the anti-doping investigation into Sky’s Chris Froome, which was closed on Monday with the four-time Tour winner cleared of any wrong-doing after he returned a test containing high levels of Salbutamol at La Vuelta last year.
Lappartient was among those who said Froome, whose case should have remained confidential unless an anti-doping charge was brought, should not race after the news was leaked in December.
And since the case was closed on Monday, the Frenchman has contradicted his own organisation’s statement on whether or not more information on the case might be released, and suggested to BBC Sport that Sky were able to successfully defend Froome because they have a bigger budget than other teams.
That left Brailsford to wonder if the 45-year-old Lappartient, the former mayor of Sarzeau in Brittany, understood his job properly.
“I gave him the benefit of the doubt when he started,” Brailsford said. “He’s new to the job and he obviously doesn’t quite understand the responsibilities of a presidential role. I think he’s still got the kind of local french mayor kind of mentality maybe.”
Lappartient told the BBC he would be happy to provide more details on Froome’s now closed Salbutamol case, but needed the permission of the four-time Tour winner to publish the information.
But he said that just hours after a lengthy UCI statement said there were “important reasons” the World Anti-Doping Agency did not release such information, not least that it might be used by others to beat the system.
“It would be better if he was clearer,” Brailsford said. “He’s contradicted himself a few times in some of the things he’s saying. One minute it’s we [the UCI] can release stuff and the next minute we can’t.”
Brailsford has repeatedly said it is up to the UCI and WADA to publish further information on the case as it was their decision to explain.
Lappartient’s comments about Team Sky’s budget risked stirring up sentiment against the team amongst French crowds, who have already shown their hostility towards Froome this week, despite him being cleared of wrong-doing.
“If you want to be the president of an international federation, protect everyone in that community,” Brailsford said. “Don’t take the French angle, or a nationalistic view. Protect the international community with no bias.
“And I think he’s still learning that really. And the quicker he can get there and learn what the president of an international federation’s responsibilities are the better it will be for everybody. But he’s got some work to do.”
Brailsford rejected the premise of Lappartient’s comments regarding Sky’s budget, saying their investment in the sport should be welcomed.
“If I were in charge of the UCI I’d want major international sponsors to come from other sports to this one,” he said. “I’d by trying to attract the big guys, not criticising them for their resources – you should be getting more resources into the sport.
“And if that resource enables you to refine or test some of the regulations where riders who haven’t got the funds have a false positive, if that were me I’d be saying, ‘Thanks very much for that investment, because I think we can use this and keep on developing everything to make our rules better’.
“And if we’re looking to protect innocent riders then we don’t want false positive. And if someone can help support that, then well done. I wouldn’t be taking the angle that there is one rule for one and one rule for another.”
It was a positive day at the saddle for UAE Team Emirates’ Alexander Kristoff as the Norwegian followed up Saturday’s top five finish with another, crossing the line in fifth place during Sunday’s second stage to La Roche-sur-Yon.
The reigning European champion came into the final stretch alongside his fellow sprint specialists as they battled it out in the closing kilometre in what was another thrilling finish.
Commenting on the stage, the 31-year-old said: “I came from a little too far back. I knew I had to move up but I didn’t really have the legs to do it.
“I did my best and if I was stronger I could have fought with the best, but I lack the legs at the moment to fight amongst the first three. I hope my legs become stronger later but I felt a bit better today.”
Dan Martin added: “We’ve managed to keep our guard as much as possible. We worked a lot on our TTT. We have a very strong team here. Hopefully we can put in a good performance for ourselves.”
Best for UAE Team Emirates on stage two were: Marco Marcato (51st), Kristijan Durasek (99th), Darwin Atapuma (100th), Roberto Ferrari (111th), Rory Sutherland (144th), Oliviero Troia (156th).
Monday’s third stage will be the first Time Trial on this year’s Tour – a 35km Team Time Trial around the town of Cholet. Focus will be key for each team as they hope to get their GC contenders across the line with the best possible time.
World champion Peter Sagan won stage two of the Tour de France to take the yellow jersey as Chris Froome did a better job of staying out of trouble on another crash-strewn finale.
Bora-Hansgrohe’s Sagan held off a late charge from Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Merida) to win from a much-reduced sprint after a big pile-up in the final two kilometres held up the bulk of the peloton.
With stage one winner Fernando Gaviria among those caught out, Bora-Hansgrohe’s Sagan moves into the yellow jersey on bonus seconds after finishing second on Saturday.
But there were only a handful of men left to contest stage honours after a nasty right-hander two kilometres from the finish saw a number of riders hit the deck.
Froome and his Sky team-mates were also left behind but they did at least stay upright, 24 hours after Froome lost 51 seconds to most of his general classification rivals thanks to a tumble in the final six kilometres.
With the incident here coming in the final three kilometres, none of those held up will suffer time losses on general classification.
Mark Cavendish’s hopes of a 31st career Tour stage win were also scuppered by the incident but the Dimension Data rider stayed upright.
The dramatic pile-up capped another nervous finale to the race, with Mitchelton-Scott’s Adam Yates among those to fall in the final 35km. The Bury rider, who like Froome lost time thanks to a crash on the opening stage, quickly made his way back to the pack but with his left shoulder scuffed up.
Astana’s key man Luis Leon Sanchez was not so lucky, forced to abandon after hitting the deck hard, while Romain Bardet’s domestique Silvan Dillier also fell.
Those incidents came as the speed picked up and the peloton reeled in Sylvain Chavanel, the Direct Energie rider who had been away solo since the 35km marker on the 182.5km stage from Mouilleron-Saint-Germain.
The 39-year-old, competing in a record 18th Tour de France and his 350th stage, enjoyed his day in the spotlight, sitting up to high-five fans in the towns early in the day as the peloton was happy to let him go.
He was finally caught with 13km left, setting up an intense battle for position on the road into La Roche-sur-Yon.
Marcel Kittel, winner of five stages in last year’s Tour, saw his hopes of contesting the sprint effectively ended by a flat rear tyre with 7.5km to go, but the bigger incident was still to come.
Sagan leads by six seconds from Gaviria, but the more notable name near the top of the general classification is Team Sky’s Geraint Thomas, who sits in seventh, 15 seconds off the lead.
The Welshman nicked third place in the bonus sprint late on the stage to move one second clear of the rest of the main contenders, and he will hope for Team Sky victory in Monday’s team time trial to propel him into yellow.
Yates and Froome sit in 81st and 84th places respectively, 67 seconds off yellow but more concerned about the 51 second gap to the likes of Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale), Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) and Mikel Landa (Movistar).