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Tour de Romandie Preview

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AFP / Yuzuru Sunada

Chris Froome will headline the Tour de Romandie, which begins on Tuesday, as the defending champion ramps up his preparations for the Tour de France in July. The British rider, who dominated the race last year, is hoping the statistic that the past three winners of the six-day race have gone on to win the Tour de France remain true to form. The Sky Team rider will be on the start line for the opening prologue around Ascona but hasn’t raced since the Tour of Catalonia where he finished sixth overall at the end of March.

He was set to take part in Sunday’s Liege-Bastogne-Liege one day classic before pulling out of the 100th edition of the event with a mild chest infection. Team Sky’s Doctor Richard Freeman confirmed: “Unfortunately Chris has been suffering from a mild chest infection. After an examination we concluded that the best course of action would be to withdraw him from Liege-Bastogne-Liege as a precautionary measure, which will allow him the best chance of recovery ahead of the Tour de Romandie.”

Former winners Cadel Evans of Australia in 2011, Britain’s Bradley Wiggins in 2012 and Kenyan-born Froome last year, have all gone on to win the Tour de France. Froome also skipped the Tirreno-Adriatico in March after pulling out with back pain. Reigning Giro d’Italia champion Vincenzo Nibali of Italy looks set to race after accepting a late invitation from organisers. Another contender is Portugal’s Rui Costa, who has twice finished third on the race and knows the local roads well after winning the Tour of Switzerland the past two years. He is however recovering from a nasty crash during the Liege-Bastogne-Liege which left him with an injured shoulder.

The race culminates on Sunday with an 18.5km individual time-trial near Lake Neuchatel, while the overall victory may be decided during Friday’s third stage, that features four category one climbs between Le Bouveret and Aigle.