Froome set for return at UAE Tour next month

By Martyn Herman
FILE PHOTO: Tour de France

By Martyn Herman

LONDON (Reuters) - Chris Froome will make his competitive return to the peloton at next month's UAE Tour after a coming through a rigorous training block in the Canary Islands, the four-time Tour de France winner said on Wednesday.

The UAE Tour, the only WorldTour race in the Middle East, takes place from Feb. 23-29.

Froome has not raced since a horrific crash while training for the Criterium du Dauphin last June which left him in intensive care with multiple fractures to his sternum, spine, femur, elbow and ribs.

"I'm really excited about getting back to racing at the UAE Tour," the Team Ineos rider said. "I've come off a good block of training in Gran Canaria and look forward to taking the next step in my recovery and getting back to full strength."

Kenya-born Briton Froome, 34, needs one more Tour de France victory to match the record shared by fellow greats Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain.

Team Ineos boss Dave Brailsford last week named reigning champion Egan Bernal of Colombia and 2018 winner Geraint Thomas as their likely co-leaders for the Tour, although he said Froome was hungry to be back to full fitness in time for the race.

The UAE Tour would be a useful gauge of Froome's recovery and boasts a strong lineup this year including 2018 world champion Alejandro Valverde, Froome's new Ineos team mate Rohan Dennis and Giro d'Italia king of the mountains Giulio Ciccone.

British sprint king Mark Cavendish, who has won 30 Tour de France stages and is now racing for the re-branded Bahrain-McLaren outfit, is also taking part, as are Italian road champion Davide Formolo, Adam Yates, Wout Poels and Colombian sprinter Fernando Gaviria.

(Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Ken Ferris)