Team Sky fields impressive Tour lineup in support of Froome

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After being cleared of doping, Chris Froome is ready “to make history” in France.

Froome will be on the starting line of the Tour de France on Saturday in the western region of Vendee, aiming to join Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain in the elite club of five-time champions of cycling’s biggest race.

“The last twelve months have been the hardest but also the most incredible of my career,” Froome said on Tuesday in a statement submitted by Team Sky, a day after cycling authorities cleared him of any wrongdoing despite an abnormal doping test result.

Froome has raced all season under the cloud of a potential ban after a urine sample provided during his victory at the Spanish Vuelta in September showed a concentration of the asthma drug salbutamol that was twice the permitted level. The International Cycling Union ruled on Monday that his sample results did not constitute a breach to the anti-doping rules and closed all proceedings against the British rider.

The decision also meant Froome will be able to hold onto the Giro d’Italia trophy he won in May, which gave him three straight Grand Tour titles.

“I’ve never started the Tour de France after riding the Giro d’Italia, and it has meant a completely different approach to my season,” Froome said. “But I learnt a lot from riding the Vuelta straight after the Tour de France last year, which has given me confidence coming into this race.”

Team Sky will again field a very strong team in support of Froome, including Egan Bernal, Jonathan Castroviejo, Michal Kwiatkowski, Gianni Moscon, Wout Poels, Luke Rowe and Geraint Thomas.

“I want to make history with a fifth Tour de France win and fourth consecutive Grand Tour,” Froome said. “I am under no illusion about the challenge, but I am feeling ready and I couldn’t ask for a better team to support me.”

Aged 21, Bernal will make his Tour debut and will play a key role in helping Froome in the mountains alongside Poels and the experienced Castroviejo, who is also a strong climber. Kwiatkowski, a versatile former world champion, was impressive last year in helping Froome to a fourth title in France, while Thomas can also aim for the yellow jersey if Froome can’t live up to expectations. Moscon is also a Tour debutant who rode in support of Froome at the Vuelta last year.

“We go into the Tour with a lot of confidence. Chris is in great shape after the Giro, mentally and physically, and the whole team wants to build on the success we had in Italy,” Team Sky principal Dave Brailsford said. “Chris is already one of the greats of the sport. This is a chance for him to cement that reputation even further.”

The Tour starts on Saturday from the island of Noirmoutier-en-l’Ile.

Davide Rebellin dies after hit by truck while training

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MILAN — Italian cyclist Davide Rebellin, one of the sport’s longest-serving professionals, died after being struck by a truck while training. He was 51.

Rebellin was riding near the town of Montebello Vicentino in northern Italy when he was hit by a truck near a motorway junction. The vehicle did not stop, although Italian media reported that the driver may have been unaware of the collision.

Local police are working to reconstruct the incident and find the driver.

Rebellin had only retired from professional cycling last month, bringing to an end a career that had spanned 30 years. He last competed for Work Service-Vitalcare-Dynatek and the UCI Continental team posted a tribute on its social media accounts.

“Dear Davide, keep pedaling, with the same smile, the same enthusiasm and the same passion as always,” the Italian team said. “This is not how we imagined the future together and it is not fair to have to surrender so suddenly to your tragic absence.”

“To your family, your loved ones, your friends and all the enthusiasts who, like us, are crying for you right now, we just want to say that we imagine you on a bicycle, looking for new roads, new climbs and new challenges even up there, in the sky.”

Rebellin’s successes included victories at Paris-Nice and Tirreno-Adriatico as well as winning a stage in the 1996 edition of the Giro d’Italia, which he also led for six stages.

Rebellin won silver in the road race at the 2008 Olympic Games, but he was later stripped of his medal and banned for two years after a positive doping test. He had denied wrongdoing.

CAS upholds Nairo Quintana DQ from Tour de France for opioid use

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LAUSANNE, Switzerland – The disqualification of two-time Tour de France runner-up Nairo Quintana from his sixth place in the 2022 race for misuse of an opioid was confirmed by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

CAS said its judges dismissed Quintana’s appeal and agreed with the International Cycling Union that the case was a medical matter rather than a doping rules violation. He will not be banned.

The court said the judges ruled “the UCI’s in-competition ban on tramadol was for medical rather than doping reasons and was therefore within the UCI’s power and jurisdiction.”

Traces of the synthetic painkiller tramadol were found in two dried blood spot samples taken from the Colombian racer five days apart in July, the UCI previously said.

Quintana’s case is among the first to rely on the dried blood spot (DBS) method of collecting samples which the World Anti-Doping Agency approved last year.

Tramadol was banned in 2019 from use at cycling races because of potential side effects. They include the risk of addiction, dizziness, drowsiness and loss of attention.

Quintana finished second in the Tour de France in 2013 and 2015, won both times by Chris Froome. He won the 2014 Giro d’Italia.