February 5, 2018 / 11:49 AM / 9 months ago

Froome to make season debut at Ruta del Sol

(Reuters) - Britain’s Chris Froome will make his 2018 season debut at next week’s Ruta del Sol, his Team Sky said on Monday.

2016 Rio Olympics - Cycling Road - Final - Men's Individual Time Trial - Pontal - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 10/08/2016. Chris Froome (GBR) of United Kingdom competes. REUTERS/Paul Hanna

The 32-year-old four-times Tour de France winner is under investigation after returning an adverse drugs test at last year’s Tour of Spain which he won.

He was found to have double the allowed amount of the legal drug Salbutamol in his system in a test after stage 18 of the Vuelta in September.

Team Sky and Froome, who has denied any wrongdoing, are presenting their case to the International Cycling Union.

“I’m confident that we will be able to get to the bottom of what has happened and I’m working hard with the team to do that,” Froome said in a statement.

“Obviously, I understand that this situation has created a lot of uncertainty. I completely get why there has been so much interest and speculation.”

The Ruta del Sol starting on Feb. 14 will be Froome’s first competitive appearance since his third-place finish in the time trial at the world championships in Norway last September.

Team Principal Dave Brailsford admitted it was a tough situation.

“We all recognise that these are difficult circumstances but it’s important for all sides that this process is conducted fairly before a final conclusion is reached,” he said.

“It is a complex situation but we’re working as hard as we can with Chris to resolve things as soon as possible.”

Froome will line up in the five-day stage race in Andalusia, which he won three years ago, after completing a training stint in South Africa.

“I have put in a hard training block in January,” Froome said. “It’s been good to be out on my bike and to get the miles under my belt.”

Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru, editing by Ed Osmond

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