Armstrong was speaking to Sky Sports News upon his arrival in southern France, ahead of his participation in a charity ride taking place one day ahead of the Tour.

Lance Armstrong, right, rides as he joins former England soccer…

Chris Froome’s demolition of the Tour de France field during the first big climb of the race has not only served to secure his grip on the yellow jersey but has also increased speculation over whether he is clean.

For the first time since he was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles, disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong on Thursday rode a stage of the famous race for charity.

Not that the peloton escaped the weather front, as they were soon in the thick of it, with the group of Froome and all the overall favourites trailing the day’s main break that would split and dwindle in numbers from about 20, leaving only eight riders between them by the finish.

Emanuel Buchmann (Bora-Argon) was third and Froome (Team Sky) rolled in 5mins 21secs behind Majka in ninth place as part of an elite group.

Majka was the strongest and he attacked on the steep roads to the tourmalet – a 17.1-km ascent at an average gradient of 7.3 percent – to claim victory a day after his team leader Alberto Contador suffered a heavy defeat at La Pierre St Martin.

But he didn’t wilt under the pressure. Froome then turned the tables on them, with a turn of speed that shook off all but Quintana before they later caught him up again.

Froome says he pays no attention to his “numbers” while at a race, leaving the data to Team Sky’s performance staff.

The powerful German, who has won two stages this year, had briefly taken the upper hand during the stage, eclipsing Sagan by just one point after faring better in the intermediate sprint over the 198.5-kilometer (123-mile) 13th stage from Muret to Rodez.

With those mountains that straddle France and Spain behind them, the opportunities for podium contenders to eat into Froome’s comfortable race lead are starting to run out. Rodriguez was 6 minutes, 47 seconds faster than Froome, trimming his deficit to the British leader by more than one third.

Having suffered terribly over the previous two days in the Pyrenees, Italian Nibali had been a shadow of the figure that stormed to victory a year ago, but he was back to his normal self in coming 16th in the same time as Froome. The crescendo will be on the 21 hairpin bends to the Alpe d’Huez ski station on the last day before the finish in Paris.

Froome brushed off Armstrong’s visit as a “non-event”, noting, “he’s not on the start line with us”.

Quintana vowed that he’ll keep trying to claw back time from Froome. “The cause is near and dear for him”, said Armstrong, who will also ride in Friday’s (Saturday PHT) 178 km 14th leg from Rodez to Mende.

“He’s human like the others”, the Movistar team leader said.