Chris Froome: Team Sky 'confident' Briton will compete in Tour de France

Geraint Thomas overall winner of the Criterium du Dauphine

Geraint Thomas overall winner of the Criterium du Dauphine

The Briton has been under a cloud of speculation since he was found to have twice the permissable amount of asthma medication Salbutamol during last year's Vuelta a Espana, which he subsequently won.

Team Sky are "confident" Chris Froome will ride in this year's Tour de France, despite reports in France claiming race organisers have banned him.

Froome and Team Sky have denied any wrongdoing.

"For the moment we have here a leak in Le Monde".

Team Sky will appeal the decision and a hearing will take place on Tuesday before a decision on whether Froome can take his place at the starting line is taken on Wednesday.

Amaury Sports Organisation (ASO), the organisers of the iconic Tour, refused to comment on the report although AFP has had confirmation of information they say backs their view that the defending champion should not be allowed to race.

Sky, ASO and the French Olympic Committee will each choose an arbiter to decide whether Froome should be allowed to start the Tour.

The decision is meant to protect the image of the race because the British rider is at the centre of an ongoing doping case.

Froome was notified of the "adverse analytical finding" on 20 September 2017.

While that did not constitute and anti-doping rule violation, ASO believed that the Belgian's participation could damage the reputation of the race. But he is confident of being cleared of doping after an investigation.

In 2009, Belgian rider Tom Boonen, a major name in the sport, was excluded having tested positive for cocaine, which ASO said was harmful to their image - the same argument it is using with Froome.

Should Froome take part he will be the hot favorite to win the race as, at 33, he remains the best three-week tour rider on the contemporary cycling scene.

Groupama-FDJ boss Marc Madiot has also praised the Tour de France organisers for the decision.

Those closest to Froome think he will be pursuing a fifth Tour win that would put him on a par with Hinault.

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