French rider Romain Bardet has told local fans to stop booing Chris Froome as the Team Sky star battles the peloton and roadside jeers in his bid for a fourth Tour de France title.
Froome pulled off a remarkable recovery act to retain his hold on the yellow jersey on Sunday's 15th stage, making up almost a minute to Bardet and Fabio Aru on the Col de Peyra Taillade after suffering a mechanical problem that forced him to change bike.
Local fans booed and jeered Froome as he tried to make up ground, while he had urine thrown at him during the 2015 event amid allegations of doping.
Bardet was moved to apologise for his shabby treatment.
"I heard that Chris Froome had been abused at times during yesterday's stage. I'm sorry about that," the Frenchman told a news conference during Monday's rest day.
"He is a champion and he deserves respect. I respect him as an opponent and he does not deserve that kind of treatment."
The three-time champion retains an 18-second lead over Aru, while Bardet is a further five seconds back.
Having overcome a mighty obstacle on Sunday, Froome believes he is now well-set to stay in the yellow jersey, thanks to a much-needed rest day on Monday.
"I certainly feel as if I'm on an upward curve," Froome said.
"I came in with the least amount of race days ever coming into a Tour de France. I really do feel as if I'm coming up and the last few days have been evidence of that.
"I had a bad day in the Pyrenees about a week ago but hopefully I'm on track to be at my best in the last week."
|Jaziri saves eight match points to win in Atlanta|
|Tottenham 2 Roma 3: Kolarov makes debut in thriller|
|Premier League spending unsustainable – Levy|
|Mourinho: I miss Rooney a lot|
|Instagram post was Pique´s ´gut feeling´ over Neymar future|
|Mackay lauds Greller for getting ´most critical yardage ever´|
|Top seeds bow out early in Hamburg|
|Suns guard Brandon Knight out for season with torn ACL|
|Emery unmoved when quizzed on PSG´s pursuit of Neymar|
|Jackson, Olding to be prosecuted in relation to alleged rape|
|Real Madrid´s attack doesn´t need Mbappe to wreak havoc, claims Casemiro|
|Warriors officially confirm new deals for Curry, Durant|
|Balotelli fitter than last season, warns Dante|
|Mata and Herrera provide Manchester United injury boost|
|Orlando capture Dwyer in record swoop|
|Bardsley bolsters Burnley backline options|
|Ibrahimovic still a leader at Old Trafford – Pogba|
|Wozniacki prevails in Bastad, Duan dumped out of Jiangxi Open|
|Thiago Maia joins Brazilian influx at Lille|
|LeBron James refutes report he´d be ´tempted to beat Kyrie Irving´s a**´|
|WATCH: Neymar´s aim defeats Messi and Suarez|
|Hart can help West Ham reach top eight – Hislop|
|Ajax´s Nouri out of intensive care and breathing unaided|
|Mourinho wants a midfielder and winger at Man Utd|
|Peerless Peaty breaks WR twice in one day... with final still to come|
|Mourinho slams UEFA over Bailly ban|
|Payet was a flawed individual – Sullivan|
|Dhawan and Mukund to open for India|
|Conte pleased with Morata cameo|
|F1 Raceweek: New-look Hamilton a cut above in Budapest? Grosjean cooking up a storm|
|Kaka uncertain of Orlando future as he targets MLS play-offs|
|Cassano should be applauded, says Prandelli|
|Sanches seeking to swap Munich for Milan|
|Brown loaned to Brighton after signing Chelsea contract|
|Stokes holds no grudge against Rabada|
|VAR would have ruled out ´Hand of God´ goal, Maradona admits|
|Former Ireland scrum-half O´Leary retires|
|Bordeaux abandon Wellington Silva transfer|
|Joshua-Klitschko II ´pencilled in´ for November 11 - Hearn|
|Kaka backs Bonucci to help Milan rediscover glory days|
|Chelsea 2 Bayern Munich 3: Muller at the double as Bayern bounce back|
|Injured Michu confirms retirement|
|Barrington backing Farrell to inspire England to World Cup glory|
|Neymar will make right decision amid PSG links - Kaka|
|Wagner backs Liverpool to win the league|
|Monaco deny world-record €180m Real Madrid deal for Mbappe – report|
|Higuain: I need to score more in Europe|
|Soliola given five-match ban for Slater hit|
|Devastated Rutherford to miss World Championships|
|Real Madrid ´would be alright´ but Dolberg in no rush to leave Ajax|
|Canada rugby sevens wing Zaruba lands NFL contract|
|Mane, Ings back in full Liverpool training|
|Mahrez would do great things at Roma – Gonalons|
|Sensational Peaty smashes his own world record|
|Australia´s ´ton of talent´ leaves Hayne eyeing Fiji World Cup call|
|Real Madrid want a top-class French striker, Lyon president claims|
|McMahon turns back on Australia for Japan move|
|Bernat has surgery on ankle ligament tear|
|Higuain wants Dybala at Juventus but ´can´t point a gun at his head´|
|Twins, Royals making moves to try catch Indians|
|I want more trophies – Ronaldo confirms Real Madrid stay|
|Outgoing Storm half-back Cronk yet to decide on future|
|Bjorn lauds ´special´ Spieth|
|Aulas: PSG signing Neymar for record fee is risky|
|We see life differently - Rafter responds to Tomic|
|Spieth favourite for US PGA Championship, says Watson|
|Cavs´ Jefferson sympathetic to Irving´s trade mindset|
|LeBron excited by Rose´s expected Cavs move|
|Klopp unfazed by Mourinho, Man United|
|Tyson: McGregor is going to get killed fighting Mayweather|