Froome says he has put his pending salbutamol case out of his mind as he bids to become Giro d'Italia champion
Team Sky’s star, winner of four Tour de France titles, is starting the race for the first time with the objective to win the overall. It begins in Jerusalem on Friday with a 9.7-kilometre time trial.
“For me, I’ve mentally put all that aside,” Froome said.
“To be here on the start line, I am only thinking about winning the race. I am not thinking about July. I am here to give my absolute best in the next three weeks to try to step on that top step when we reach the finish in Rome.”
Froome’s top rival and defending champion Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) said that if he were Froome, he would not be here racing due to the stricter rules that his team follows.
Others, like the UCI president Davide Lappartient have called for Froome to sit out until the UCI anti-doping tribunal decides on his case. If it rules that he was guilty, he could lose the Vuelta a España title and risk losing any possible Giro d’Italia result.
“I understand everyone is entitled to an opinion,” Froome said. “I know it’s frustrating, but this was also meant to be confidential. I am confident people will see it from my point of view when the details are out there.”
Retired rider Alberto Contador won the 2011 Giro d’Italia, but due to a case from the 2010 Tour de France, he had the title stripped.
“It’s a very different situation [than Contador’s]. That is not something that I am even thinking of. I am not entertaining that idea because I am coming from the starting point that I have done nothing wrong,” added Froome.
“There is nothing that says I shouldn’t be here racing. In that sense, it’s not something I am going to entertain.”
Team boss David Brailsford joined the eight-man team in the press conference. “It’s not to answer now,” he said when asked if he would fire Froome if is suspended due to the team’s zero-tolerance rules.
“We are here to respect to the race, we are here to talk about the race,” Brailsford added. “To talk about the fantastic start in Jerusalem and to enjoy being here. For us, we should be concentrated on the race now.”
The three-week races starts with a short time trial in Jerusalem on Friday and stays in Israel for the next two stages as well.
“Starting with the prologue, the time trial, it’s a big opportunity for the GC guys,” continued Froome. “The road condition is also very different than what we are used to here. The road markings and furniture. We are going to have to active over the next few days.
“Racing the Giro was a decision that I came to with the team over the winter, preparing for the season ahead. I am glad to be back. It’s been almost a decade since I raced and the first time I’ve come to try to win the event.
“With Dumoulin here, I’m certainly not going to be only relying just on my time trial to win the Giro. It’s a balanced race, there are time trials, but also a lot of mountains. So it balances out.
“There’s not going to one terrain that decides this Giro. It’s the entire package.”