Chris Froome to make season debut at Ruta del Sol

Team Sky announces leader's first race

Chris Froome will make his season debut at the Ruta del Sol, Team Sky has confirmed. It will be Froome’s first time at the race since taking overall victory and a stage win in 2015.

“I have put in a hard training block in January. It’s been good to be out on my bike and to get the miles under my belt,” said Froome.

“It’s been a couple of years now since I was last at Ruta del Sol. It’s a race I’ve enjoyed in the past and so I’m looking forward to going back there."

The Ruta del Sol will begin on February 14 and finishes on February 18. Froome has been clocking up the training miles in South Africa over the past month, putting in over 5,000 kilometres according to his Strava account. Italian newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport reported last month that Froome would kick off his season at the Spanish race, but Team Sky have kept quiet on the matter until now.

Froome is currently under investigation by the UCI after he returned an anti-doping sample containing more than twice the permissible levels of the asthma medication salbutamol during the final week of last year’s Vuelta a Espana. Froome carried the red jersey to Madrid but risks being stripped of the title and serving a ban. As salbutamol is a specified substance, Froome is allowed to continue to race until the case is resolved, although the UCI president David Lapprtient has recently called for Team Sky to withhold him from racing during the investigation.

Froome has denied any wrongdoing and must prove to the UCI that it was possible for those levels to be in his urine despite not exceeding the permissible dosage of 1,000nl/mg. In the statement issued by Team Sky, Froome acknowledged the ‘uncertainty’ of the process but said that he believed they could ‘get to the bottom’ of it.

“I’m confident that we will be able to get to the bottom of what has happened and I’m working hard with the team to do that,” Froome explained. “Obviously I understand that this situation has created a lot of uncertainty. I completely get why there has been so much interest and speculation.

“I hope that people will appreciate there are limits to what I can say whilst the process is still ongoing but no one is keener than me to move things forward as quickly as possible."

Team Sky manager Dave Brailsford added: “We all recognise that these are difficult circumstances but it’s important for all sides that this process is conducted fairly before a final conclusion is reached.

“It is a complex situation but we’re working as hard as we can with Chris to resolve things as soon as possible."

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