Melton Times sports editor’s blog: Triumphant Chris Froome tainted by ghosts of Tours past

File photo dated 14/7/13 of Team Sky's Chris Froome. PPP-140407-120831002
File photo dated 14/7/13 of Team Sky's Chris Froome. PPP-140407-120831002

I’m sure when a boyish Chris Froome dreamed of wearing the yellow jersey on the Champs Elysees he imagined things slightly differently.

It might be fair to say the fantasy was, in some ways, better than the reality.

For all the adoring fans and pure unadulterated respect in dreamland, there lurks plenty of bitter cynicism and suspicion in the world at large.

It would have come as no surprise to the newly-crowned double Tour de France winner to face as many questions about doping as racing at the daily media briefings.

We have the litany of past cheats and cover-ups to thank for that, ensuring scores of clean, champion riders will never fully get the unblemished credit they deserve.

The actions of Armstrong, Landis, Pantani et al didn’t just corrupt their own era of cycling. They sowed a legacy of distrust which will fester for generations.

So who’d be a cycling pro? You spend most of your career training and racing on the edge of, and beyond, sensible human limits in one of sport’s most physically punishing arenas.

For a fortunate handful, these plentiful years of toil and torment will be rewarded with success, and for guys like Froome the ultimate pinnacle of a Grand Tour victory.

But even then question marks will continue to loiter above your head.

There will be hushed whispers in dark corners and outlandish bile spouted about you by total strangers on social media.

I’ll bet that doesn’t come with the childhood dream.

In my heart of hearts, I choose to believe Froome is achieving what he does through sheer athleticism and the support of a superbly organised team.

The poor guy has borne scurrilous accusations and urine throwing without actual evidence against him, and did so with remarkable composure.

But even as a Froome fan, as an ordinary bloke on the street, I don’t know for sure. And maybe that’s the case for many cycling fans.

We’d like to permanently bin all such negative notions from our minds, but there remains a guardedness not to be fooled again.

Once bitten, as the world was so spectacularly by Armstrong, it’s natural to erect a few defensive checkpoints to remain twice shy.

There are, of course, a few morons who will use biological uncertainties to exercise grudges.

I can understand why a British team dominating a French institution was not exactly popular among partisan fans.

Plenty of fans here will have harboured similar guilty feelings towards an Australian victory at Lords and an American’s triumph at St Andrew’s, the holiest of British sport’s holy ground.

But those punching Richie Porte, and hurling urine, boos and spit in the face of the maillot jaune, are not standing up for cycling, just sating petty vindictiveness and base thuggery.

As Bradley Wiggins succinctly put it on the way to his landmark Tour win, there will always be those lacking the drive, talent and spirit to achieve things themselves who instead use their energy to sneer and bring down those who do.

But in modern cycling, even the most admiring and fair-minded fans will harbour an element of doubt, through no fault of the current crop.

Without wishing to sound twee, it’s thanks to the aspirations and dreams of children – with minds still uncluttered by world weary cynicism and experience – that sport is constantly refreshed and offered wide-eyed hope.

But how much longer will current and future champions of cycling be expected to shoulder the sins of their fathers?