UCI president appeals for Chris Froome protection ahead of TDF

Chris Froome will be aiming for his fifth Tour de France title REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier

UCI president David Lappartient has made an appeal to cycling fans for the safety of Chris Froome.

Ahead of the Tour de France, which starts in Noirmoutier-en-l'Île on Saturday, the head of cycling's governing body said it was his "mission" to protect all riders during the race, referencing the Team Sky rider whose doping case was cleared on Monday.

"They have to respect all the riders and they have to respect, among all of them, Christopher Froome," said Lappartient, addressing cycling fans in a video posted on his Twitter feed.

"I was really upset to see fans on Twitter and social media call for fights during the Tour de France. This is clearly unacceptable and my mission of UCI is to protect all the riders.

"Chris Froome has no more right than the other riders but he has no less right that the other riders, so we must respect all of them."

There were reports over the weekend that Tour de France organisers were planning to prevent Froome from competing but the British cyclist will be going for his fifth yellow jersey after being cleared by the UCI and the World Anti-Doping Agency.

The four-time winner tested positive for excessive levels of salbutamol during last year's Vuelta a Espana but WADA concluded Froome's results did not constitute an adverse analytical finding.

Lappartient also called for cycling fans to have faith in the UCI following the closure of Froome's case.

"They can trust the UCI," he said. "We will do what we have to do to clean the sport but they also have to respect the decision.

"This decision is based on the World Anti-Doping Agency statement and we have to respect their and their expert's decision."

When asked earlier this week if he was worried about the reception he will get in France, Froome said: "Over the years, we have always had a small crowd who aren't happy to see us, for whatever reason.

"We have always come up against adversity over the years. That is something you deal with in the moment. Hopefully that doesn't interfere with the race."