Froome starts sea­son in Ruta del Sol de­spite op­po­si­tion

Global Times - - Sports -

Chris Froome re­turns to com­pe­ti­tion on Wed­nes­day in the Ruta del Sol but he will be rid­ing un­der a cloud af­ter the rev­e­la­tion in De­cem­ber of an ab­nor­mal dop­ing re­sult.

Froome has the right to ride be­cause salbu­ta­mol, the sub­stance that showed up in the test, is an anti-asthma drug which can be taken legally and so does not lead to an au­to­matic ban.

Cy­cling’s in­ter­na­tional gov­ern­ing body UCI still has to make a rul­ing on the case and has asked Froome to ex­plain why twice the al­lowed limit showed up in his sam­ple. But the re­ac­tion of other rid­ers sug­gests that the pres­ence of the four-time Tour de France win­ner in the five-day race through An­dalu­sia in Spain may pro­voke some re­sent­ment in the pelo­ton. UCI chief David Lap­par­tient said last month that Froome should be sus­pended over the ad­verse test, and some of the rider’s main ri­vals have hit out at cy­cling au­thor­i­ties for fail­ing to ban him.

De­spite the crit­i­cism, Froome, who has not raced since Septem­ber, is pre­par­ing to start his 2018 sea­son in the same coun­try where he re­turned the con­tro­ver­sial test on Septem­ber 7 as he headed for vic­tory in the Span­ish Vuelta.

“About to head to Ruta del Sol. I want to thank ev­ery­one for their sup­port & pa­tience over this dif­fi­cult pe­riod. I am do­ing my ut­most to en­sure that things are re­solved as speed­ily as pos­si­ble. Can’t wait to get this sea­son started!!” Froome wrote on Twit­ter on Tues­day.

Froome, who won the race on his last ap­pear­ance in 2015, should be one of the fa­vorites over a course which con­tains a moun­tain-top fin­ish on Thurs­day and ends in a time trial that could have been de­signed for the 32-year-old Bri­ton.

If he suc­ceeds in clear­ing his name, this race could prove an im­por­tant step­ping stone for suc­cess on the road later in the sea­son. He needs miles in his legs to pre­pare for his big­ger ob­jec­tives: the Giro d’Italia, which starts on May 4, and the Tour de France, start­ing on July 7, where he would be chas­ing a record-equalling fifth vic­tory.

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