Lance Armstrong admitted he was to blame for the negative speculation surrounding Tour de France overall leader Chris Froome.
Lance Armstrong admitted he was to blame for the negative speculation surrounding Tour de France overall leader Chris Froome of Team Sky.
Armstrong, who had his seven Tour de France titles stripped for persistent doping violations, sparked controversy on Tuesday when he tweeted his reaction to Froome's strong start to this year's race.
"Clearly Froome/Porte/Sky are very strong. Too strong to be clean? Don't ask me, I have no clue," Armstrong wrote, following Froome's powerful finish up the Pyrenean mountain of La Pierre Saint Martin on stage 10.
Froome took line honours with a 59-second gap on team-mate Richie Porte, with the British 30-year-old extending his overall lead to two minutes, 52 seconds over Tejay van Garderen (BMC).
But after arriving in southern France on Wednesday, ahead of his planned charity rides on the same routes as stages 12 and 13, Armstrong argued Froome deserves the benefit of the doubt rather than be tarred with the same brush as the 43-year-old American.
Froome, the 2013 Tour champion, remains in yellow following Wednesday's stage 11, which was won by Tinkoff-Saxo's Rafal Majka.
"I know what that is like for a guy like Chris to be in the middle of the Tour, to deal with the constant questions, which of course he is, and to be fair and to be honest, a lot of that is my fault," Armstrong told Sky Sports.
"A lot of people ask those questions, they see his style, they see his performance, they see the time gaps, they see the cadence and they think, 'This guy is just another one of them'.
"I feel bad about that. Whoever is winning the Tour de France in 2015 should not be answering questions about someone who won it 10 or 15 years ago. That's just not legitimate; that's just not fair."
Armstrong added that he had only attempted to respond to numerous questions posed to him about Froome's performance.
"I was simply answering a question. I put it out there as, 'Don't ask me that question because I don't know that answer'," he said.
"I tried to clarify it even later, saying, 'I don't have any credibility on that issue, I know that, and furthermore, I don't really care'. That's not my role to opine about that.
"I had other comments and thoughts about the stage that I said, but by simply throwing it out there that I don't know, don't ask me, that somehow translated into, 'These guys are dirty', which is the last thing I want to say because I don't know that."