Chris Froome (Team Sky) will be backed up by Wout Poels and David de la Cruz at next week’s Ruta del Sol. The four-time Tour de France champion announced last week that he would make his season debut at the week-long stage race.
On Friday, Team Sky confirmed the six riders that will be heading to Andalusia with the four-time Tour de France champion. As well as key lieutenant Poels and new signing De la Cruz, Team Sky will have some firepower with Philip Deignan, Salvatore Puccio and Christian Knees. After making his Team Sky debut at Challenge Mallorca, Dylan van Baarle completes the team.
Froome’s participation was greatly welcomed by the race director Joaquin Cuevas, despite the cloud of a UCI investigation hanging over the Team Sky rider. Froome produced an Adverse Analytical Finding for the asthma medication salbutamol at last year’s Vuelta a Espana. Froome has denied any wrongdoing and is currently working with his legal team to resolve the case. As salbutamol is a specified substance - rather than a banned one - Froome is allowed to race while the investigation continues, despite calls from the UCI president David Lappartient – among others – for the Briton to sit out of racing until it is resolved.
Froome last raced at the Ruta del Sol, officially called the Vuelta a Andalucia Ruta Ciclista Del Sol, back in 2015. He won the final mountain stage to the Alto de Allanadas before going on to claim the overall victory. The Allanadas will feature again this year, but it comes on stage 2, and while the most challenging stage of the week, it won’t be the deciding factor in the general classification.
Team Sky is one of the many teams running a concurrent programme, with the Volta ao Algarve and the Tour of Oman both on next week. They will not be sending a team to the latter, but have named a squad for Algarve. Geraint Thomas and Michal Kwiatkowski headline the seven-rider line-up with Owain Doull, Kenny Elissonde, Michal Golas, Vasil Kiryienka and Lukasz Wisniowski completing the line-up.
Team Sky for the Ruta del Sol: David de la Cruz, Philip Deignan, Chris Froome, Christian Knees, Wout Poels, Salvatore Puccio and Dylan van Baarle.
Team Sky for the Volta ao Algarve: Geraint Thomas, Michal Kwiatkowski, Owain Doull, Kenny Elissonde, Michal Golas, Vasil Kiryienka and Lukasz Wisniowski.