Protests hit Froome's Ineos as Asselman wins Tour of Yorkshire opener

London (AFP) –


Anti-fracking protestors confronted Chris Froome's Team Ineos with screams of "sell out" ahead of the first stage of the Tour of Yorkshire on Thursday before Dutch rider Jesper Asselman went on to claim the opener off a long-range escape.

The protest against riders representing Ineos, formerly known as Team Sky, came after environmental pressure group Friends of the Earth accused the company of trying to "greenwash" its reputation because of its involvement in fracking and as a large-scale producer of plastic.

One protester shouted "sell out" and "Judas" as Ineos riders made their way to the race start in Doncaster.

The British squad became known as Team Ineos as of this week, after Ineos chairman Jim Ratcliffe, Britain's richest man, took over sponsorship of the outfit.

On the rainswept course, the opening 182-kilometre leg of the race saw Roompot-Charles rider Asselman emerge victorious from a group of four riders who broke away from the main peloton.

The rebranded team of four-time Tour de France winner Froome and renowned sprinter Mark Cavendish's Team Dimenion Data did much of the chasing but could not overhaul the leaders.

Team Sky, then funded by the satellite broadcaster of the same name, won six Tour de France titles in seven years and eight Grand Tour victories in total.

But they were mired in controversy over the way they used special medical exemptions to administer drugs that can enhance performance.