With just two stages left in the Tour de France 2015, there seems to be no respite from controversies surrounding it.
Stage 19 of the race was again marred when yellow jersey holder Chris Froome was allegedly spat at by some spectators during the 138km stretch of the race yesterday (24 July) from Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne to La Toussuire.
"We're human beings, and then we're sportsmen. People need to remember that," a disappointed Froome was quoted by the BBC as saying, after the 2013 TDF Champion learnt about the incident from some journalists present in the crowd.
"You can't come to a bike race to spit at people or to punch people or to throw urine at them - that's not acceptable at any level," he stated.
Only prior to the stage, the Union Cyclist Internationale (UCI) released a joint statement with the tour's organisers – the Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO) – asking spectators to behave in a decent manner and respect the riders.
"UCI president Brian Cookson and Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme ask crowds along the roadside to respect every rider, and the integrity of the riders and in particular the yellow jersey," the statement read.
"The UCI and ASO publicly regretted the aggressions suffered by the leader of the overall classification from some spectators during the 14th stage between Rodez and Mende, while at the same time thanking the large majority of the public which respects the athletes."
During Stage 14, Froome was allegedly thrown a cup of urine by some sections of the crowd and his fellow Team Sky rider Richie Porte was also reportedly spat at by the crowd.
Porto had mentioned that he also received a punch during Stage 10 of the tour from Tarbes to La Pierre-Saint-Martin.
These incidents can only spoil the thrill the race is seeing in the final stages. Movistar's Nairo Quintana stood second in the stage yesterday – 44 seconds behind stage 19 winner and defending TDF champion Vincenzo Nibali (Italy).
The second finish took Quintana closer to Froome in the General Classification tally, and the Briton's lead has been cut short to 2 mins and 38 seconds, as they go into the penultimate stage of the tour this year.
The 110.5km Stage 20 of the tour from Modane Valfrejus to Alpe d'Huez is the fourth stage in the Alpines this year. The stretch of the race contains two classified climbs – the Col de la Croix de Fer and the Alpe d'Huez.
The legendary ascent to the Alpe d'Huez is expected to be the much-anticipated moment of the tour this year, as points will get doubled at the climb for the stage winner.
And Froome is going for the kill. "It will be full on. I'm looking forward to Alp d'Huez. It would be a dream to win there but I have to keep up with the Colombian first."
For the Colombian Qunitana, "it'll be all or nothing" on Saturday.
WHERE TO WATCH LIVE
In India, the Tour de France Stage 20 can be watched live on Ten Sports (6:15pm IST), with the option of live streaming on tensports.com
Viewers in the UK can catch it on Eurosport and ITV4, with programmes starting at 1pm BST.
Highlights: Eurosport2 from 6pm to 7pm and from 9pm to 10:30pm; ITV4 from 7pm to 8pm;S4C from 10pm.
Viewers in the US can catch it on NBC from 7am ET.
NBC Sports will also stream the event live.