Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) has criticised the handling of the Chris Froome salbutamol case and expressed concern at how the affair has damaged the reputation of cycling. The Dutchman was speaking at his pre-Tour de France press conference in La Mothe-Achard on Wednesday.
On Monday, the UCI announced that it had dropped its proceedings against Froome, who returned a urine sample containing twice the permitted threshold of salbutamol en route to overall victory at last year’s Vuelta a España.
News of Froome's positive test first broke in December of last year, but the Team Sky rider was free to race pending the resolution of the case, and won the Giro d'Italia ahead of Dumoulin in May.
On Sunday, it was reported that Tour organiser ASO was seeking to block Froome’s participation on the race, but on Monday, the UCI announced that it had dropped its case against Froome, citing the advice of the World Anti-Doping Agency.
"It's incredible," Dumoulin said, according to AFP. "I'm not blaming Froome. He's been cleared. It's how the whole case has been handled which is just a mess, it's really unfortunate. It's not what cycling needs.
"It's ruining the reputation of cycling and fans are probably walking away from the sport because of this. It's just the way it's been handled — not how it should have been."
UCI president David Lappartient called on fans at the roadside to respect Froome, who claimed that a spectator had thrown urine at him during the 2015 Tour.
"Nobody deserves to be showered with urine. Froome does not deserve that," Dumoulin said, and then joked: "I think I'm going to ride a place – or five places – behind him. A spray like that can easily miss the target."
Dumoulin is lining out for his fourth Tour de France, but this is the first time that he has targeted the general classification at La Grande Boucle. He won two stages on his last appearance in 2016, when he was forced out of the race by a crash in the final week.
Like Froome, Dumoulin rides the Tour with the exertions of the Giro in his legs, though he is hopeful that the six-week gap sufficed for him to recover from his efforts south of the Alps in May.
"I'm going for the best possible classification," Dumoulin said. "But it is the first time that I am combining the Giro and the Tour. At the moment everything feels right, but I do not know if that will be the case for three weeks. I'm just going to get everything out of my body."