Tour de France competitor disqualified after punching opponent in face

In the spotlight Geraint Thomas is the man to beat going into the final week of the Tour de France

Sky boss Sir Dave Brailsford Show us some respect by Gavin Brown Published

Sky may be dominating with Thomas and Froome 1-2 in the overall standings, but Thomas has been booed off the podium, Froome has been spat at and, on the climb to Alpe d'Huez last week, the Kenyan-born Briton was slapped heavily on the back by one fan.

"We get on", he added before breaking out in a grin.

The punching incident overshadowed a day in which Geraint Thomas comfortably retained the yellow jersey as Magnus Cort Nielsen won his first career Tour stage, outsprinting Jon Izagirre of Bahrain-Merida and Bauke Mollema of Trek-Segefredo to deliver back-to-back wins for Astana.

Thomas, Froome, world champion Peter Sagan and other riders were treated with eye drops due to the tear gas amid a 15-minute delay.

He said: "It's going to be a insane day, we can expect attacks from the very start but whoever does go early it's going to be a gutsy ride because that final climb is arguably the toughest of the tour".

Team Sky principal Sir Dave Brailsford believes the spitting, booing and physical intimidation to which his riders have been subjected at this Tour de France is a phenomenon particular to "French culture", adding that unless French fans start to "respect top global teams" they may find they do not come any more. "It's a shame but we're not going to let it distract us".

"We raced in Italy and Chris' case was open when we were at the Tour of Italy and the Italians were fantastic, to be fair to them", Brailsford said.

In comments that will have offended the host nation, Brailsford said on Monday that the physical intimidation "just seems to be a French thing".

"It's like a French cultural thing really, isn't it?"

Culture clash Brailsford faces the media yesterday
Culture clash Brailsford faces the media yesterday

"I'm not sure they would like to have seen their (France) football players being spat at (the World Cup) in Russian Federation". I'm sure that there would be a word or two about that. But it's OK to spit on us, and on our staff. Emma Kennaugh [a junior press officer] is 21.

"Personally I'd have a bit of an issue if that was going on in my country, but there we go".

"We feel safe. Obviously on some of the climbs not everyone's our fans but we don't feel threatened", Thomas said.

"It's challenging, we accept it, and we just have to make a decision as to how to behave".

"It's certainly not going to calm people down", conceded Brailsford who said he had "some information" as to what had caused Moscon to lose his head but was "not going to dwell on it now". We're trying not to react.

"The police and ASO [Tour organisers Amaury Sport Organisation] are doing the best they can I suppose".

Another Tour de France rest day, another Team Sky storm. At the end of the day ... the Tour de France is promoted as the world's greatest annual sporting event and if that's what you want to host and you want the best global riders to come and take part in an worldwide event then maybe treat them with a bit more respect. We recon all these stages but you never know what's coming up. "We'll smile and try and win the race".

Team Sky principal Dave Brailsford blames the French cycling culture for fans abusing his Tour de France leaders Geraint Thomas and Chris Froome. "You tell me, I don't know".

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