Similarities of Chris Froome now to Alberto Contador in 2011 are clear

As the Sky rider prepares for the Tour de France under a cloud of suspicion it is impossible to ignore parallels between his buildup and that of the Spaniard seven years ago

As Karl Marx said, history repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce. Which one the 2018 Tour de France turns out to be remains to be seen. Chris Froome, the defending champion, travels to the Vendée this week aiming for a place in the record books: a record-equalling fifth Tour win, a straight run of four Grand Tour victories out of four, and the first Giro d’Italia-Tour double in 20 years. It should be a statistician’s delight but it is also a legal bunfight, with Froome’s adverse analytical finding (AAF) for salbutamol still in abeyance.

Unless the verdict falls this coming week, cycling has been here before. It was in the Vendée in 2011 where a beleaguered Alberto Contador started the Tour de France as defending champion, on the back of a Giro d’Italia win, with a possible anti-doping ban hanging over him. He met a hostile reception, with a chorus of booing when he was presented to the crowds at the pre-Tour presentation. It is to be hoped that Froome is more gracefully received.

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