Director of Ruta del Sol welcomes Chris Froome

The organiser of the 2018 Vuelta a Andalucia Ruta Ciclista del Sol has said that it will be "a pleasure and an honour" to have Chris Froome (Team Sky) back on the start line of the Spanish race this year.

Organiser Joaquin Cuevas told Spanish news agency EFE that Sky had indicated to him two weeks ago that Froome wanted to take part in the five-day stage race, also known as the Vuelta a Andalucia, or just the Ruta del Sol.

Cuevas insisted that Froome, who will make his season debut in Andalucia, "could compete because the UCI has yet to take a position concerning his case."

It will be Froome's first appearance in a UCI-ranked road race since the Road World Championships last year, where he took bronze in the time trial, and since news broke of his Adverse Analytical Finding (AAF) for salbutamol over the winter.

Cuevas also recalled that Froome had won the overall in his last participation in the Ruta del Sol, back in 2015, and that this year's stage 2 summit finish on Allanadas is the same climb where Froome took a stage win en route to that overall victory.

The Ruta del Sol starts on Wednesday, February 14 on the Mediterranean coastal resort of Mijas and finishes with an individual time trial in Barbate in western Andalucia.

Since news broke of Froome's AAF, the Giro d'Italia organizer has taken more lukewarm position over Froome’s intended participation this year. Following the Ruta del Sol, Froome is rumoured to be taking part in Tirreno-Adriatico, also run by Giro organisers RCS Sport.

Regarding the Ruta del Sol, Froome said "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.

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

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Alasdair Fotheringham

Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 bar one, as well as numerous other bike races of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the Olympic Games in 2008 to the now sadly defunct Subida a Urkiola hill climb in Spain. As well as working for Cyclingnews, he has also written for The IndependentThe GuardianProCycling, The Express and Reuters.