Chris Froome thanks other riders for support during opening Ruta del Sol stage

Chris Froome (Team Sky) has highlighted the degree of support he has received from other riders in the peloton following his first day of racing in 2018 on the Ruta del Sol.

Froome finished safely in the main pack behind winner Thomas Boudat (Direct Energie) after a relatively straightforward, if fast, run through the hills of eastern Andalucia to Granada.

The Briton had been the centre of attention before the start in Mijas, as he spoke to the press ahead of his first race since news broke in December of his adverse analytical finding for salbutamol at the 2017 Vuelta a España.

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Team Sky was active early on keeping the break of the day under control but opted to let other squads like Astana take command of the peloton as Granada approached.

Froome crossed the line in the middle of the bunch, then quickly made his way to the team bus. A little later, he spoke briefly to reporters before posing a number of selfies with fans massed around the Sky vehicles and then riding to the hotel.

“It’s the first race in the build-up to the Giro now and it’s good to be back racing,” Froome said. Asked if he could gauge the mood of the fans on the roadside during the stage, Froome said: “I always enjoy racing in Spain, it’s a great atmosphere here again.”

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