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Tour de France 2016

R-E-S-P-E-C-T: Tour de France leader Chris Froome wallops spectator, then calls on fans to respect riders

The defending champion threw out his arm and gave the fan a hearty shove as he was climbing up the final difficulty of the day on Saturday’s eighth stage in the Pyrenean mountains

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 10 July, 2016, 11:23am
UPDATED : Sunday, 10 July, 2016, 9:26pm

Chris Froome has pleaded with fans to respect riders after lashing out at a Colombian supporter of his main Tour de France rival.

The defending champion threw out his arm and gave the fan a hearty shove as he was climbing up the final difficulty of the day on Saturday’s eighth stage in the Pyrenean mountains.

Froome went on to win the stage following an audacious attack on a breakneck descent to the finish in Bagneres de Luchon.

And after collecting his yellow jersey as the new overall race leader Froome, who’s main competition is Colombian darling Nairo Quintana, said: “I’ve got nothing against Colombian fans, they’re fantastic and bring a great atmosphere to the race.

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“This guy in particular was running right next to my head and had a flag flapping behind him.

“It was just getting dangerous. I lashed out and pushed him away.”

The brusque reaction was caught on television and picked up by social media users.

Froome came in for some harsh criticism and later expressed his displeasure on Twitter.

“Getting abuse for the hand off of the spectator, camera doesn’t show his flag almost going into my front wheel & across my handlebars!” said Froome in a post that ended with an angry face smiley.

However, he later returned to Twitter to write an open apology to the fan he elbowed, even doing so in Spanish.

“Sorry to the fan I pushed today – I was worried about how close he was, due to the danger that he could cause a crash,” said Froome.

He was quick to try to diffuse the incident in his post-race press conference.

“It’s fantastic having so many fans out on the roads but please don’t try running with the riders,” he said. “It gets really dangerous for guys riding behind.”

The incident threatened to take some of the shine off a brilliant stage victory from the 31-year-old Briton.

Froome has been on a charm offensive in France after coming in for some rough treatment and abuse from a minority of supporters last year.

He allegedly had urine thrown over him, was spat at and insulted on the route to Paris before securing his second Tour victory.

This year, he’s been highly complimentary of French fans and even claimed on Twitter ahead of France’s Euro 2016 semi-final against Germany that he would be supporting the hosts.