London (AFP) – Chris Froome will lead Team Sky in this month’s Giro d’Italia as he targets victory in a third straight Grand Tour event despite an ongoing probe into an adverse doping test, the team announced Friday.
The British rider is taking part in the event, which starts in Jerusalem and runs from May 4 to 27, for the first time since 2010.
Froome admitted there was a risk in making a serious assault on the Giro so close to his expected attempt to retain his Tour de France title, but said he would regret it for the rest of his career if he did not attempt it.
He completed an historic Tour de France-Vuelta a Espana double in September.
“The Giro is special and full of history, and I am looking forward to racing it again after almost a decade,” said Froome.
“I’ve had a different start to the season as I’ve obviously been aiming to try and reach my peak quite a bit earlier than usual. But the target of going for a third consecutive Grand Tour has given me new motivation.
“Of course there is an element of risk involved in targeting the Giro before the Tour, but I think I would regret it for the rest of my life if I didn’t give this race a go.”
Froome, 32, has been embroiled in a legal and scientific wrangle with the International Cycling Union’s (UCI’s) independent anti-doping unit since he returned an adverse analytical finding for the asthma drug salbutamol at the Vuelta a Espana.
Referring to the test, he said: “I also recognise the wider issues and as I have said before I am doing everything I can, together with the team, to help resolve them as quickly as possible.
“In the meantime I am focused on racing. I would love to win the maglia rosa (the pink jersey for the winner of the Giro), but I am under no illusions whatsoever about how hard the race will be.”
Froome insists there has been no wrongdoing on his or the team’s part.
Although salbutamol is permitted in certain doses, Froome gave a urine reading of twice the allowed limit. The investigation is ongoing and Froome continues to compete.
The other members of Team Sky for the Giro are David de la Cruz, Kenny Elissonde, Sergio Henao, Vasil Kiryienka, Christian Knees, Wout Poels and Salvatore Puccio.
Team principal Dave Brailsford said: “Chris is also going for a third consecutive Grand Tour. Everyone in cycling knows just how tough that is. We have a strong, talented and versatile team supporting him. Every rider will have an important contribution to make.
“This year’s race promises to be a very tough edition with some of the hardest mountain climbs in cycling including Mount Etna and the Zoncolan.”