The Team Ineos (formerly Team Sky) rider’s Giro d’Italia 2018 win puts him in an exclusive club with Eddy Merckx and Bernard Hinault – being just the third cyclist to have been defending champion at all three Grand Tours in one year.
He hasn’t (yet) managed to match the likes of Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain, who all have five Tour de France wins to their name – having come third in the 2018 edition behind team mate Geraint Thomas and Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb).
The drug is used to treat asthma, which Froome has suffered with from childhood. An athlete is allowed to use 1,600 micrograms of salbutamol in a 24-hour period without a therapeutic use exemption (TUE) – but Froome’s blood reportedly contained 2,000 nanograms per millilitre (ng/ml) – twice the permittable limit of 1,000 ng/ml.
On July 2 2018 the UCI announced the Froome had been cleared of the AAF – following consideration of evidence from its own experts and those at the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). This leaves his Vuelta 2017 title intact and allowed him to ride the 2018 Tour de France.
Froome had planned to ride the Tour in 2019, but a serious crash during a Critérium du Dauphiné recon ride knocked him out of contention. Since the crash and after several operations, he rode the 7th edition of the Saitama Criterium and has attended early season training camps with INEOS.
Whilst the media has expressed doubt over his recovery, Froome and team director Brailsford have both expressed confidence in his progress and ability to compete for the 2020 tour.
The Olympics are also set to be a major goal for the Brit in 2020.
Chris Froome’s early career
Chris Froome was born in Kenya and schooled in South Africa, swapping to British nationality in 2008, just after the Beijing Olympics. British Cycling officials had identified him in early 2008 when they learned of his British family and saw his talent. At the time he was riding for Barloworld.
Despite frantic efforts, and Froome’s existing dual nationality, they weren’t able to get a release form from the Kenyan cycling federation (with whom he was registered) in time for Froome to ride the road race at the Beijing Olympics.
Froome has been with Team Sky since the start in 2010, but endured a torrid first two years. In fact, Froome was almost dropped from the team, but finally came good at the 2011 Vuelta a Espana where he finished second.
As the race went on, and Froome’s full abilities were finally on show, Sky boss Sir Dave Brailsford was so desperate to re-sign Froome he flew out to Spain on the Murdoch private jet with a new contract in hand.
It was a wise move by Brailsford as he secured the services of the man who looks set to be a dominant feature at the Tour de France for years to come.