Chris Froome admitted he could understand why Tour de France organisers moved to block him from competing in the race before the anti-doping investigation into him was dropped.
Froome will line up for Saturday’s opening stage in Noirmoutier-en-l’Ile as the three-time defending champion, and seeking a record-equalling fifth title in total.
But far from being welcome at the race, ASO made a formal move to block him prior to Monday’s announcement from the UCI that the probe into his adverse analytical finding for salbutamol during last year’s La Vuelta had been dropped.
That block has now been lifted, and Froome was keen to move on.
“I can understand the decisions they took,” he said.
The 33-year-old has faced months of scrutiny and uncertainty since he was notified of the AAF in September, with the issue becoming public when it was leaked in December.
Although he has now been cleared of wrongdoing, Froome acknowledged there were some doubters he would never win over.
“Of course it has been damaging,” he said when asked about his reputation. “As it is I’m now happy to draw a line in the sand and move on.”
Sky team principal Sir Dave Brailsford hailed his star rider for the way he had handled himself throughout. “This situation has been his worst nightmare but throughout he has maintained his dignity and maintained his performance, winning the Giro and coming here to try to win the double,” he said. “He’s been exceptional.”