Jerusalem - Chris Froome was fit to start the Giro d'Italia
on Friday despite crashing in a training ride ahead of the "Big
Start" in Jerusalem, dashing his hopes of putting the drama of his adverse
doping test behind him.
Four-time Tour de France winner Froome hit the ground during
his ride and suffered cuts and abrasions to the right side of his body, where
his shorts and jersey were also torn.
But a Team Sky spokesperson said the 32-year-old was fine
and would start 9.7-kilometre opening stage time-trial on the same bike he was
riding when he crashed.
Like all 176 riders starting the Italian tour in Jerusalem,
Froome had taken advantage of the cordoned-off street course to embark on a
But his practice ride was cut short - and caught on camera
by an eagle-eyed Twitter user - although he was able to pedal back to his Team
Sky bus to receive treatment from doctors, before returning to his hotel.
It was another blow to the race favourite, who has been
under pressure in the build-up due after testing positive for elevated levels
of asthma medication salbutamol during last year's Vuelta a Espana, which he
Froome is attempting to become only the third man in history
to hold all three Grand Tour titles at the same time, having also won last
year's Tour de France.
He escaped a provisional suspension over the adverse
analytical finding in his urine sample at the Vuelta because salbutamol is
allowed in certain doses.
But he would have been hoping to steal a march on many of
his rivals for pink jersey glory as he is a time-trial specialist, having won
Olympic and world championship bronze medals in the discipline.
"I think we could see gaps of up to 20 or 30 seconds between
the main contenders, especially on such a technical, tough circuit, up and
down," Froome had said before the race.
He had also spoken on Wednesday of his preference for hot
weather - something that Jerusalem was providing in spades.
The temperature crept over 30 degrees Celsius with a thin
haze that made it heavy as well as hot, something French climber Thibaut Pinot
is not a fan of.
"It's not ideal with the heat," he had said on
The time-trial course is not entirely suited to Froome's abilities,
though, as it includes 18 turns and frequent short climbs and descents, meaning
the less powerful but punchier riders would be less disadvantaged.
Certainly Froome now knows the perils the course holds after
his training spin.
Crowds were still sparse during the morning, competing with
the throngs of tourists visiting the Old City, as well as the faithful heading
to the Al-Aqsa mosque on the Temple Mount for Friday prayers.
For some, including an Old City barber called Eddie, the
race was a hindrance.
"This Italian race is terrible, all the roads are
closed," he complained.