Chris Froome may have said that he was grateful for riders’ support as he returned to action at the Ruta del Sol with the investigation into his adverse analytical finding at the Vuelta a España still ongoing, but not all members of the peloton were happy to see Froome back competing.
Speaking ahead of the opening stage of the Ruta del Sol, Tony Martin, who criticised the actions of the UCI after news of Froome’s anti-doping investigation broke in December, said that he did not think Froome should be back racing.
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“It’s super bad for cycling,” Martin told CyclingPro.net. “I absolutely do not understand why Team Sky came back with Froome when the case remains unclear…it’s a shame.”
Martin’s view was shared by Philippe Gilbert, who said that Froome should respect his fellow riders and not race while the investigation was ongoing.
“It’s hard to give a view on it,” the Quick-Step Floors rider said on the steps of his team bus. “Personally I think it’s a big mistake [for him to be racing] because there is still doubt hanging over him. And out of respect for the other riders, he should refrain from racing.”
However not all riders were so keen to condemn Froome’s return to action, with Wanty-Groupe Gobert rider Yoann Offredo saying that the investigation must be allowed to run its course, with Froome being given a chance to explain himself to the authorities.
“I think if he’s broken the rules, the appropriate authorities need to manage the situation,” Offredo said. “He can present his defence and he needs to explain himself but it’s up to the authorities to enforce, or not enforce, any sanctions. And if they do, the sanctions need to be consistent with relation to what he has done wrong and other cases in the past.”
Froome has denied any wrongdoing in relation to an adverse analytical finding at the 2017 Vuelta a España, and is now working with Team Sky, defence lawyers, and medical experts to prove that the high concentration of salbutamol in his urine after stage 18 of the race was not as a result of exceeding the maximum permitted dosage of the asthma drug.
Froome also spoke ahead of the start of the Ruta del Sol on Wednesday, saying that people will see things from his point of view “when the facts are out”, while Team Sky boss Dave Brailsford urged critics to “get a bit of perspective” as he again vouched for Froome’s innocence in the case.