Team Sky announce that Chris Froome will start his 2018 season at Ruta del Sol next week

Froome to start his 2018 season with investigation into salbutamol case still ongoing

Chris Froome (Pic Russ Ellis/Team Sky)
(Image credit: RUSS ELLIS)

Chris Froome will start his 2018 season at the Ruta del Sol (February 14-18) as he begins his preparation for the Giro d'Italia while lawyers and medical experts continue to work behind the scenes to clear his name in the ongoing salbutamol case.

Froome has spent the early part of the year training in South Africa, and will travel to Europe to begin his 2018 season in southern Spain where he took victory in 2015.

Team Sky have faced calls from the likes of UCI president David Lappartient to voluntarily suspend Froome while the investigation into his adverse analytical finding at the 2017 Vuelta a España is concluded, but have apparently decided against taking this course of action.

>>> Everything you need to know about Chris Froome's salbutamol case

Froome has denied breaking anti-doping rules which allow athletes to take a maximum of 800mg of salbutamol per 12 hours, and, with Team Sky's backing, has vowed to clear his name.

"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.

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

"I hope that people will appreciate there are limits to what I can say whilst the process is still ongoing but no one is keener than me to move things forward as quickly as possible."

Watch: Giro d'Italia 2018 route guide

Team general manager Dave Brailsford also said that the team were hopeful that the matter would be resolved as quickly as possible.

"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," Brailsford said.

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

>>> 272km, 45kmh: Chris Froome's astonishing 'Empty the Tank' training ride on Strava

The 2018 Ruta del Sol will consist of five stages between February 14 and February 18, including a summit finish on stage two, a short uphill finish on stage four, and a 13km time trial on the final day.

Team Sky have not yet announced the six riders who will line-up alongside Froome at the Ruta del Sol, otherwise known as the Vuelta a Andalucia. Alejandro Valverde is the defending champion, and is expected to lead Movistar after taking victory at the recent Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana.