TEAM SKY are confident that defending champion Chris Froome will be on the start line of this year’s Tour de France, despite reports emerging that race organisers are blocking him from entering.

The Brit, who would be aiming for his fifth Tour title when the race begins on Saturday, is currently under investigation by cycling’s governing body, the UCI, after twice the permitted level of legal asthma drug Salbutamol was found in an anti-doping test he took during last year’s Vuelta a Espana.

Froome has continued racing since the adverse findings as per UCI rules and has had a strong 2018 so far, winning the Giro d’Italia for the first time in his career in May to hold all three grand tour titles simultaneously.

However, French newspaper Le Monde reported over the weekend that race organisers ASO do not want Froome to compete in this year’s Tour while his doping case is still pending.

ASO feel, it was reported, that the inclusion of Froome would damage the reputation of the race and do, under UCI rules, have the authority to refuse a rider the right to participate.

Team Sky have appealed the move to block his entry to the French Olympic Committee – the appeal will be heard tomorrow with a decision expected the following day.

Team Sky are optimistic though that their star rider will be on the start line on Saturday, releasing a statement saying: “We are confident that Chris will be riding the Tour as we know he has done nothing wrong.

UCI President David Lappartient said that Froome has every right to race, but should sit out while the case is ongoing while Tour race director, Christian Prudhomme said this week: “It’s terrible that the authorities have not managed to resolve this problem before the start of the world’s biggest race. I will not comment more but of course, rules have to be changed.”

Meanwhile, in the British National Road Race Championships in Northumberland yesterday, Connor Swift won the men’s race ahead of Adam Blythe.

In the women’s race, Jessica Roberts took the title while teenager Rhona Callander was first Scot home in 49th place, with Jenny Holl in 65th place.