Sunday, 15 September, 2019

Chris Froome heads Team Sky Tour de France line-up

Shannon Reynolds | 06 July, 2018, 22:47

Team Sky have confirmed the line-up to support Chris Froome in his bid for a fifth Tour de France title.

"The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) confirms that the anti-doping proceedings involving Mr. Christopher Froome have now been closed", the UCI said in a statement.

The Tour de France begins on Saturday, July 7 in Noirmoutier-En-L'Ïle.

"The last twelve months have been the hardest but also the most incredible of my career", he said, pointing out that he had "never started the Tour de France after riding the Giro d'Italia".

As he bids for a record-equalling fifth Tour crown and fourth Grand Tour on the trot following victories in the Tour, Vuelta and Giro d'Italia in the last year, 33-year-old Froome will be supported by Thomas, Rowe, former world champion Michal Kwiatkowski, Wout Poels, Jonathan Castroviejo and debutants Egan Bernal and Gianni Moscon.

Froome is hoping to move level with Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault, Jacques Anquetil and Miguel Indurain as the only five-times winners of the Tour, and also to become the first man to do the Giro-Tour double since Marco Pantani in 1998.

Tour organisers had said Froome taking part could "damage" the race but now say the UCI's decision means there is no reason to prevent his participation.

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"I'm just so relieved now that going into the Tour de France, our biggest race of the year, we can finally draw a line (under this) and have this behind us now", Froome had earlier told Sky Sports News.

It would also be a fourth consecutive Grand Tour win after victories in the Tour and Vuelta a Espana past year and the Giro this summer, and would complete the Giro-Tour double. But I learnt a lot from riding the Vuelta straight after the Tour de France previous year which has given me confidence coming into this race. Whatever added tests facing Froome, route designer Thierry Gouvenou said the switch between the flat and the mountains "is perhaps the greatest challenge of this Tour".

Froome said he had urine thrown at him during the 2015 Tour, and he was booed by fans when passing through rival Romain Bardet's home region past year.

"This is the biggest challenge I've faced to date and I can't wait to get stuck into the racing side of things again", he said. "He's one of the great champions".

"We have chosen the Tour squad to support (Froome) that we believe is best equipped to meet the demands of this year's race", team principal Sir Dave Brailsford said. This is a chance for him to cement that reputation even further. It is a team of real versatility and one that balances youth with experience.

Bernal has had a hugely impressive maiden year at Sky, finishing second at the Tour de Romandie and winning the Tour of California, and his presence at the Tour de France had been long anticipated. "It is a testament to his ability and determination that he has come back so strongly".

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