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by Matt de Neef
February 19, 2018
In today’s edition of the CyclingTips Daily News Digest: Alexey Lutsenko wins the Tour of Oman; Tim Wellens secures the overall at Ruta del Sol; Michal Kwiatkowski takes out the Volta ao Algarve; Jonathan Hivert wins both stages and overall at Haut Var Matin; Mathieu van der Poel and Sanne Cant take Superprestige wins in Middelkerke; Riders critical of Froome’s appearance at the Ruta del Sol.
As he began the Ruta del Sol — his first race back since news of his salbutamol finding emerged — Chris Froome (Sky) claimed he was overwhelmed by the support he was receiving within the peloton. Other riders in the peloton have painted a different picture, chief among them the race’s overall winner Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal).
Froome finished the Ruta del Sol in 10th place overall, 1:57 behind Wellens.
“Froome said he has seen incredible support inside the peloton. That’s not what I’ve experienced,” Wellens said. “If you did a poll, nine out of 10 riders would say it’s better that he’s not here. On camera, a lot of riders are afraid to say what they think. Behind the cameras, they are not so happy about it.
“I wouldn’t feel at all comfortable in Chris’ situation and I would not have started to race until a verdict had been made public.”
Wellens’ compatriot Oliver Naesen was equally unimpressed: “[Froome] should not be racing until there is a definitive conclusion to this, for better or for worse,” Naesen told Sporza. “You can’t consider it a normal situation. This is very bad news for fans of the sport and its credibility. Hopefully the UCI will evaluate the defence’s case soon.”
Tony Martin (Katusha-Alpecin) had a similar oponion: “It’s super-bad for cycling,” the German said at the Volta ao Algarve. “I absolutely don’t understand Team Sky and Froome that he comes back before this case is clear. It’s a shame.”