Speedy recovery could help Chris Froome race at Tour de France

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PARIS — Four months after a career-threatening high-speed crash left him with multiple fractures, Chris Froome has resumed training in the hope that he can compete for a record-equaling fifth Tour de France title.

Still a bit shaky on his feet, the Team Ineos leader attended the 2020 race presentation on Tuesday alongside teammate Egan Bernal, the 22-year-old prodigy from Colombia who became the Tour champion while Froome was in his sick bed.

“I’m on the road to recovery still,” Froome said. “I’ve made it back onto the bike in this last month, which has been fantastic. I’m heading in the right direction.”

In June, just a few weeks before the Tour start, Froome hit a wall during a training ride as he geared up for cycling’s biggest race. He underwent a six-hour operation after breaking his right femur, elbow and several ribs in the crash that ended his season.

“I’ve still got a plate on my hip that needs to get removed soon, and once that comes off I think things will start to improve a little bit faster,” Froome said.

Froome, who won the Tour de France in 2013, 2015, 2016 and 2017, could join an elite club of four riders with five Tour victories, including Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain.

But time could be a factor for the Kenyan-born athlete. Now 34, Froome has no guarantees he will be able to fully recover, and he is facing strong competition within his own team with Bernal and Geraint Thomas, the Welshman who dethroned Froome at the 2018 Tour.

“We’ve got an amazing line up, an amazing roster of riders to select from,” Froome said. “There is nothing decided yet. For me, personally, I have obviously to get myself back to that level before even discussing leadership, or anything like that. At least, for now, everything is going the right direction. I’m optimistic.”

In his quest for a fifth title, Froome won’t be helped by the race route, which features only 36 kilometers of time trials, a specialty he excelled at before his crash.

“But there will be a lot of opportunities, really, for the general classification to play out,” he said. “It should be an exciting Tour.”

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.