Chris Froome and Dave Brailsford defiant as Team Sky rider returns

Controversial Chris Froome at the Ruta del Sol yesterday

The 32-year-old rider insisted he will compete at the Giro d'Italia and the Tour de France - where public reaction may be tepid or worse - even if his anti-doping case, which has rumbled on for nearly five months, remains unresolved.

Chris Froome, the Tour de France overall leader in yellow jersey, reacts at the Alpe d'Huez finish line in the French Alps mountains, July 25, 2015.

Despite the criticism, Froome, who has not raced since September, starts his 2018 season in the same country where he returned the controversial test on September 7.

Chris Froome promised to prove his innocence as he spoke in public today for the first time since it was revealed that he had returned an adverse finding in a drug test conducted a year ago.

Chris Froome described the support he received from fellow riders on his return at the Ruta del Sol as "touching".

He did not appear at the pre-race press conference on Tuesday but could find himself facing the microphones on Wednesday, before or after the opening stage from Mijas, on the Mediterranean coast and Granada on the slopes of the Sierra Nevada."Obviously, I understand that this situation has created a lot of uncertainty". The stage was won by Frenchman Thomas Boudat, a former omnium world champion on the track.

"What was very touching was how many riders from other teams came up to me during the stage to offer their support. It was great to catch up and awesome to see the support". I want to thank everyone for their support & patience over this hard period.

He also dismissed the suggestion from David Lappartient, president of the UCI, cycling's governing body, that the team should have immediately suspended Froome.

"I hope it doesn't get that far but I'm still allowed to race now and I don't see why not", he told BBC Sport.

Chris Froome has spoken to the cycling media for the first time since his salbutamol case stating that there is "a lot of misinformation out there" surrounding the case and that "people will see it from my point of view" when the issue is resolved.

On the other hand, if he is later banned then he would be retrospectively disqualified, meaning he could be distorting the competitive balance of the Ruta by riding.

"I know I have done nothing wrong, that's my starting point", Froome said.

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