Chris Froome will race the Tour of the Alps, his final race before the Giro d’Italia, from Monday, reports Cyclist. The last three editions of the race – formerly the Giro del Trentino – have all been won by Team Sky via Richie Porte, Mikel Landa and Geraint Thomas.
Aiming to win both the Giro and the Tour de France, Froome has eased his way into the season with relatively little racing. He finished 10th at the Ruta del Sol in February and 34th at Tirreno-Adriatico in March.
In February, it was reported that the UCI was considering giving the Team Sky rider a provisional ban following his adverse analytical finding for Salbutamol at last year’s Vuelta a Espana. In the end, this was not imposed and the case has dragged on.
UCI president David Lappartient recently told L’Equipe: "I honestly thought it would all be settled sooner. I'd imagined that it would be done for the start of the Classics. But the whole procedure is complex. He has more resources than the others and has good lawyers, like we do. Because he argues that he has followed the rules, that has made the investigation a lot bigger."
While the possibility of a ban is still likely to hang over Froome during the Giro, Lappartient did express his hope that the case would be resolved in time for the Tour de France. He confirmed that Froome’s legal team had not questioned the validity of the salbutamol test, as some had expected they might.
The case is now with the UCI Anti-Doping Tribunal and according to Lappartient: "We won't lose any more time there. Enough evidence has been gathered."
He also conceded that it was an unwelcome situation to have Froome racing with the case still ongoing – not least for the rider himself.
“It puts everyone, the organisers, the UCI and the rider himself, in an untenable situation. We don't want to see a rider targeted by part of the public," he said.
"I don't know how the public will react. He's ridden two races but not in France. Most people are well behaved but there are always some who get fired up and who are less respectful of the rules. Our goal is not to place him in such a situation.”