Froome returns to racing at Flèche Wallonne

Briton back to mid-week Classic after five-year gap

Team sources have confirmed that Chris Froome (Team Sky) will be on the startline of Flèche Wallonne on Wednesday, but that he will not, as had been rumoured possible, be taking part in Liege-Bastogne-Liege on Sunday. His next race will instead be the Tour of Romandie, which Froome won in 2013 and 2014.

The Briton last raced this season in the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya, losing more than 27 minutes on one stage, before heading to Tenerife for almost two weeks of training. Prior to Catalunya, Froome missed out on Tirreno-Adriatico because of a chest infection, but in February he won his first race of the season, the Tour of Andalucia, ahead of arch-Tour rival Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo). Froome’s previous participation in Flèche Wallonne, meanwhile, was back in 2010, finishing 119th, eleven minutes down.

“I think Chris is in good shape, he’s been to altitude camp in Tenerife, ” Team Sky sports director Gabriel Rasch told reporters on Tuesday.

“Tomorrow [Wednesday] Sergio [Henao] and Lars-Petter [Nordhaug, Sky’s top finisher in Amstel Gold on Sunday – ed.] are our road captains, but of course we will give Chris a good chance to race himself.”

“He’s had some really good training in Tenerife - him Richie [Porte] and [Leopold] Konig and those guys. I think he’s one level up now from where he was.”

Froome flew into Belgium from his Monaco home on Tuesday lunchtime and although he was due to do some light training near the Sky team hotel in the afternoon, unlike the rest of the squad he would not have time to reconnoitre the new Flèche Wallonne route prior to Wednesday’s race, Rasch said.

As for Henao, already a podium finisher in Flèche Wallonne back in 2013, “Sergio was in good shape in Pais Vasco and I think Amstel was maybe a little too long for him considering his training foundation. Tomorrow [Wednesday] suits him a bit better.”

Rasch confirmed that Froome will not be doing Liege-Bastogne-Liege, as had been rumoured. Instead his next race will be the Tour of Romandie.

“I think it’s pretty straightforward for him,” Sky’s Rod Ellingworth told Cyclingnews when asked why Froome had opted to take part in Flèche Wallonne.

“One is [because of] the Tour” [the Flèche Wallonne route covers the same finale as stage 2 of the 2015 Tour de France – ed.]. “Two, it’s a WorldTour race and Chris likes this race, and three, he’s had a good training block, and a good day of racing before he goes into Romandie is important.”

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