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French press review 27 July 2015

The French press applauds Tour de France's "unloved winner Christopher Froome" amid persisting allegations of doping. US President Barack Obama's hard talk to Kenyans as he ends his maiden visit to his father's homeland; and, are Kurdish rebels the real target of Turkish airstikes against the Islamic State armed group?

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The front pages carry full-blown photographs of British rider Chris Froome after he defied abuse to win his second Tour de France title. The 30-year-old faced accusations of cheating since his last victory at the Grande Boucle two years ago. While the British tabloids toasted incensed Froome as a "man of honour" and a "marvellous king of the road", the French national dailies were less enthusiastic.

"Persona non grata wins the Tour de France", crows Le Figaro. The right-wing newspaper goes on to observe that sceptical experts are clawing at each other while millions of Tour de France spectators are still not convinced by his performance. But as it points out, Froome demonstrated an unmatchable capacity to take blows: the doping allegations that have cast a shadow over his performance, urine thrown on him during the 14th stage and being spat at by a spectator.

Never since the end of the Armstrong era has the winner of the Tour de France been at the centre of such an incriminating count of unproven charges, comments the Catholic daily La Croix.

For the Communist party daily L’Humanité, Froome probably ended up conquering the hatred but not the lingering suspicions.

The sports dailyL’Equipe leads with an excerpt from Froome’s victory statement: "I will never soil the race leader’s yellow jersey," he said as he stood on the podium with the 2015 trophy in hand. The remarks were clearly designed to distance himself from Lance Armstrong who won the Tour de France a record seven times and was later stripped of his titles after a long-running doping scandal.

On its part Libération focuses on the frustrations felt by the French that none of its riders has managed to win the Grande Boucle for 30 full years.

Victory eluded us again, groans Le Monde, adding that Bernard Hinault’s successor is slow to find.

That certainly justifies La Croix’s listing of the questions it believes are begging for answers. It wonders if the race itinerary is too tough and if the French will ever be able to complete with Anglo-Saxons or Russian teams which are richer.

Froome’s controversial triumph at the Tour relegates Barak Obama’s maiden visit to Kenya to the back pages as the US president wrapped up a three-day stay in the land of his father on Sunday. The fight against terrorism was the red wire of the visit and he brandished development as a lethal weapon against it, comments Le Figaro.

Obama spoke to Kenyans as the big brother, according to Libération, urging them to fight corruption inequalities and ethnicity. Libé says his expression of pride for becoming "the first American president to set foot on Kenyan soil and the first Kenyan president of the United States" breathed a sense of nationhood in the country torn by ethnic and political violence.

L’Humanité
denounces the double game being played by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Under the pretext of an attack in the town of Suruç, Ankara ordered punitive airstrikes on the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobane killing 32 young leftists helping to rebuild the city. This was just as he ordered air raids against IS and jihadi positions in Syria and plans to allow the US to use Turkish military bases. Erdogan had ruled out participating in US-led allied military operations.

According to the Communist paper, what Erdogan seeks in reality is to prevent the armed wing of the Kurdistan Workers party, the PKK in south-western Turkey, from regrouping with fellow Kurds in Iraq and Syria to create their own country in Rojava.

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