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Tour and Vuelta champ seeks third successive Grand Tour win - but salbutamol case rumbles on

Team Sky’s squad to support Chris Froome as he seeks a third successive Grand Tour win at the Giro d’Italia has been revealed, with organisers RCS Sport today publishing the provisional start list.

Lining up alongside the 32-year-old will be three riders who last summer helped Froome to his fourth Tour de France victory – Sergio Henao, Vasil Kiryienka and Christian Knees, who also rode the Vuelta.

Salvatore Puccio, another member of the team that supported Froome in Spain, is also named on the provisional start list for the Giro d’Italia which was released today, with Team Sky’s line-up completed by Philip Deignan, David de la Cruz and Wout Poels.

The race, which starts in Jerusalem on 4 May, is the first Grand Tour to be raced with teams of eight riders following the UCI’s decision to reduce the number from nine.

 Officially, the rule change is aimed at making racing less predictable and more exciting for fans, but it has been widely interpreted as an attempt to end Team Sky’s domination of the Tour de France in particular, with Froome winning four of the five editions raced since he was runner-up to team mate Bradley Wiggins in 2012.

Froome is racing despite UCI president David Lappartient urging him earlier this year to voluntarily suspend himself from racing while the case relating to his testing positive at the Vuelta for twice the permitted amount of the anti-asthma drug salbutamol is ongoing.

Reigning Giro d’Italia champion Tom Dumoulin, who beat Froome into third place in the individual time trial at September’s UCI Road World Championship’s in Bergen, Norway, returns with Team Sunweb to defend his title.

Other contenders for the overall include Groupama-FDJ’s Thibaut Pinot, who last week won The Tour of the Alps, Miguel Angel Lopez of Astana and 2015 runner-up Fabio Aru of UAE Team Emirates, absent through injury from last year’s race which started on his native Sardinia.

Aru’s place as leader of his former team, Astana, was due to have been taken by Michele Scarponi, who was killed when he was hit by a van driver while training ahead of the race.

Besides Froome, three other British riders are named on the provisional start list. Those are Mitchelton-Scott’s Simon Yates, who has top-ten overall finishes at the Tour de France and Vuelta to his name, Katusha-Alpecin’s Alex Dowsett, winner of an individual time trial stage at the 2013 Giro d’Italia, and EF Education First-Drapc rider Hugh Carthy, who rode the race last year.

After the three-day Big Start in Jerusalem, racing will resume on Sicily on Tuesday 8 May, with the race concluding in Rome on Sunday 27 May.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.