Chris Froome
Froome continues to defy distractions away from the race to lead the Tour.Getty Images

Chris Froome shrugged off the abuse and threats that have dogged his Tour de France campaign to maintain his grip on the yellow jersey.

The 2013 champ warmed-up before the start of stage 15 in Mende with several armed police surrounding the Team Sky bus.

Froome had urine thrown over him on 18 July's stage and there have been threats from Twitter trolls against him.

The Kenya-born rider came through the stage with no reported further incidents as Andre Greipel sprinted to his third win of the Tour.

Froome still leads by three minutes 10 seconds from Colombia's Nairo Quintana as they came home in the main group.

But the verbal and physical attacks on Froome and other members of Team Sky - including spitting and punching - have been condemned.

Froome has been the subject of repeated doping slurs in the French media over his dominating displays.

And Britain's cycling chief Shane Sutton has hit out at the rider and the team's critics.

Sutton told BBC's Sportsweek, "I think it is appalling. A few mindless individuals are trying to upset things.

"From my point of view Team Sky have changed face of cycling with a zero tolerance attitude to doping – the team are totally clean and performing fantastically.

"Team Sky took the principles from track success and applied them – they have enhanced the word professional.

"It has been a wake-up call to the rest of the world – get your house in order, this is the real business and you can make massive gains if you look at detail of everything that needs to be done."

Greipel, nicknamed the Gorilla, easily powered to victory as the sprinter's finally got to show their paces.

The German triumphed from John Degenkolb with Alexander Kristoff third after another 113 miles in swelteringly hot conditions.

But there was no 27th stage win for Britain's Mark Cavendish after he slipped into the group of stragglers who came home over 10 minutes adrift.

The Etixx Quick-Step rider, whose place at the team is under threat from Slovakia's green jersey leader Peter Sagan was favourite to win.

There has illness among the Tour riders, and Cavendish's wife, Peta, tweeted: "My poor poorly boy today."

Cavendish now only has next Sunday's finale in Paris to add to his win earlier in the Tour.