“It was another hot day and it was hard to control the break, another two hours of full gas racing at the start”.
“A lot of the reporting on the race has been very irresponsible – the individuals know who they are”, added Froome. Tejay van Garderen remains 3:32 back in third.
The American, who was stripped of his Tour titles after being found guilty of “systematic doping”, was taking part in a charity event that covers the same stages a day ahead of the main competitors.
“I certainly wouldn’t blame the public for this”, Froome said, according to the Associated Press.
Team Sky have come under intense scrutiny for claims that some of their riders have been using performance enhancing drugs and, just this week, those allegations grew larger with Dave Brailsford saying that the team have had their data hacked.
Cummings, 34, from the Wirral, powered past Frenchmen Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) and Romain Bardet (Ag2r La Mondiale) in the finishing straight.
The incident oveshadowed what had been a historic first victory for Stephen Cummings and his South African MTN-Qhubeka team on Nelson Mandela Day.
Froome leads by three minutes and 10 seconds from Nairo Quintana after the Colombian moved into second place in a stage won by Britain’s Steve Cummings.
Andre Greipel confirmed he was the sprint king at this year’s Tour de France when the German outpowered his rivals to win the 15th stage on Friday.
At best, there’ll be only one man smiling at the finish line. Dutchman Robert Gesink (LottoNL-Jumbo) is seventh at 6:23.
Although it is rare, other high-profile riders have had equally unpleasant experiences in the past – Mark Cavendish was also on the receiving end of a container of urine during the 2013 Tour, and the triple world champion Oscar Freire was hit in the thigh by an air-rifle pellet during the 2009 Tour. “It may take a while to sink in”, said Cummings.
Froome said the attacks were “unacceptable on so many different levels”. “It’s not in the name of sport”, the 30-year-old told United Kingdom broadcaster ITV. He has consistently maintained the is a clean athlete, even suggesting he could undergo independent testing in the future in a bid to prove his doubters wrong.
“That’s extremely disappointing. Unfortunately I think a lot of the reporting on the race has been very irresponsible”.
“We don’t have bragging rights to a spot on the podium in Paris until it happens”, he said in an area set aside for the team buses and cars in Rodez, where the 111-mile stage began.
Despite the negativity, Chris Froome has made it clear that his mind is on the race and those of his fans that continue to be supportive. “I want to thank those people out there but it’s just unfortunate a few individuals are ruining it for the rest”.
The peloton caught the breakaway on the long run-in from the top of the day’s final climb, which came 56.5km from the summit.