• Chris Froome's on the Tour bus and there's nothing anyone can do about it. (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
Now is the time to enjoy the Tour for what will be, rather than what it may have been, writes Anthony Tan.
Cycling Central
4 Jul 2018 - 7:42 PM  UPDATED 4 Jul 2018 - 9:34 PM

Even if you vehemently disagree with the decision, at some stage before the weekend, you have to accept that Chris Froome will be riding the 2018 Tour de France.

Otherwise, you may be issued restraining orders by your partner or family member for your impromptu hissy fits. No doubt about it, if you're planning to watch Le Tour this year, you're going to see a lot of him these next three-and-a-half weeks.

I, for one, am glad he's in.

Froome cleared by UCI and WADA in doping case
Four-time Tour de France winner Chris Froome was cleared by cycling's world governing body on Monday of any wrongdoing after he tested positive for excessive levels of the asthma drug Salbutamol.

First, it will save the other 175 competing riders being asked, 'Do you think Froome should be racing the Tour?' Maybe - probably - they'll still be asked the question. But - and this is important - now it will be framed in the context of an actual decision, which can be quickly dealt with by saying, 'Well, he's been cleared to race - not much else to say' - rather than being forced to take an ethical stance on the matter.

To dismiss him entirely or not acknowledge his presence or what he is aiming to achieve would be stupid.

That the UCI or Team Sky has not released the 1,500 page report that led to the exoneration of their star rider is of no consequence to me. I am not a scientific expert in the field of anti-doping and either are 99.9 per cent of you. Reading such a report would likely make us none the wiser. What I wanted was a decision to end the incessant 'Will he or won't he?' speculation; despite the UCI saying it was unlikely to come pre-TdF, low and behold, five days before Le Grand Depart, we've got one. As Froome said himself on the day of the verdict, "Today's ruling draws a line. It means we can all move on and focus on the Tour de France."

That's a good thing.

It also saves the other GC protagonists being asked the same sort of questions Vincenzo Nibali got when Froome and Alberto Contador crashed out of the 2014 Tour.

'Do you think the race would have been different if Froome was here?'
'Is it a more even race without him?'
'Is it a better race without him?'
'Would you have liked to beat Froome all the way to Paris?'

Boring. Boring. Boring. Boring.

Ironically, with his presence, I think there will be less focus on Froome than if he were absent. In this year's Tour, there are a multitude of elements far more interesting than Froome's asthma condition (which he's had since childhood) and whether a few extra puffs sent his Salbutamol levels Sky-high (sorry, couldn't help myself) last August.

SBS will broadcast the Tour de France live in HD from 7-29 July.

Such as... Is this Richie Porte's best and last chance to win? Can Movistar make it work with three leaders - and how will it work? Will Adam Yates and Mitchelton-Scott employ a similar or different strategy to that used with his twin Simon at the Giro? Has Romain Bardet improved enough with his time trialing to become the first Frenchman to win since Bernard Hinault in '85? Will Rigoberto Uran once again go under the radar, only this time go one better than last year? Can Tom Dumoulin back up after the Giro? How will the season's undisputed GC revelation Egan Bernal do?

Of course there will be a spotlight on Froome. Der! He is the defending champion, after all, and he comes in with a three-from-three Grand Tours-winning streak. To dismiss him entirely or not acknowledge his presence or what he is aiming to achieve would be stupid.

But unless you're a dyed-in-the-wool member of the Team Sky Hate Club, at least the conversation will revolve around his intention to create history and those intent on stopping him; not whether he should or should not be riding, or, as at the Giro he won five weeks ago, whether the results would stand the test of time.

Record-seeking Froome leads Team Sky's Tour de France charge
Chris Froome will lead Team Sky’s lineup for the Tour de France, the team announced, a day after cycling’s world governing body cleared him in a doping case.

"I want to make history with a fifth Tour de France win and fourth consecutive Grand Tour," he declared upon announcement of yet another formidable Team Sky Tour line-up.

History has shown that what Froome wants, Froome generally gets.

Of course, retrospective testing will always allow for changes to the results sheet. For now at least, with a ruling made and the four-time winner cleared of wrongdoing, most of us can get over the fact, and enjoy the Tour for the spectacle that it is, and will be this July, rather than be preoccupied with a pending decision in the courts.