Files believed to show data from Chris Froome’s stage-winning ride on Mont Ventoux during the 2013 Tour de France were the result of a leak, rather than hacking, according to the man who made them public.
Team Sky announced on Monday they were taking legal action over a breach involving Froome’s files, and it is believed to be linked to the Ventoux data, which was published last week and later made into a video.
The data, posted by Antoine Vayer, a former trainer of the infamous Festina team, gives a breakdown of Froome’s speed, cadence, power output and heart rate over the course of the climb. The video, made by someone else – whose Twitter account was later removed along with the video – sets the figures against television footage, showing how the values fluctuated in real time, notably when Froome made his high-cadence attack on Alberto Contador.
When contacted by Cyclingnews, Vayer dismissed Sky’s claims they were hacked but remained tight-lipped as to the source of the claimed leak.
“It’s a leak. It’s not a hack, of course it’s not. It’s a leak,” he said.
“I don’t know [who leaked it] – it’s not important. For you maybe it’s important but what is important is the data from the video and the fact that people who know cycling, or who don’t know cycling, look at this and can see for themselves what they think. It’s the way we should be able to look at cycling every time.”
Without knowing the source of the leak it is impossible to confirm with certainty the validity of the files. All we have is Vayer’s word and the suggestion that Sky’s reaction amounts to tacit corroboration.
“If we’ve got it we’ve got it. For me, there is no problem,” said Vayer. “We have created a sort of movement, with many people in many countries, and when we received the files the first thing we checked was whether they were accurate or not. And we showed it is a good one.”
Froome faced a wave of scrutiny and suspicion following his performance on Ventoux and throughout that 2013 Tour, which he won comfortably. Dave Brailsford and Team Sky dismissed the online doubters, who used approximate power data to argue Froome’s performance was artificially enhanced, as as 'pseudo-scientists’.
They even took the surprise step of releasing some of Froome’s data dating back to 2011 to L’Equipe, which concluded that his displays were plausible without doping.
This new data, accurate or not, is in the hands of the public and fair game for the “clowns”, as Froome called them before this Tour, to base conclusions upon.
Vayer insists his actions aren’t driven by a desire to lay accusations at Froome, but by a desire for information to be laid out neutrally without innuendo. He believes it would help the credibility of the sport if all teams were to do so.
“In the file I don’t say Froome is clean or not. I just put the file there and say, ‘Look at it’. I just want to put Sky in the future, like it should be," he told Cyclingnews.
“It’s just to help cycling progress. I want people to be able to go online and look at these things. Cycling has to grow up, adapt to the future, and I think Froome should be proud to be the first one to do that.”
Vayer has more recent files of Froome’s but is reluctant to publish them because he doesn’t trust the new data-measuring system Sky use since switching from SRM.
The next immediate step will be another video, “similar but different” to the one posted on Monday, which he hopes will be published on the website of French daily newspaper Le Monde.
Along with a Swedish acquaintance, he’s planning a split-screen with Lance Armstrong and Marco Pantani’s ride on Ventoux in the 2000 Tour on the left and Froome’s ride and numbers on the right, though he does not have numbers for Armstrong.