Defending champion Chris Froome will ride the Tour de France even if the owners of cycling’s biggest race want to prevent the four-times winner from appearing in this year’s event due to an ongoing doping investigation.

The Team Sky rider, who last week said he had every right to defend his title from when the race starts on Saturday, tested positive for excessive levels of an asthma drug at last September’s Vuelta a Espana.

But he is confident of being cleared of doping after an investigation.

French newspaper Le Monday race organisers are trying to prevent Froome from starting the race.

The Briton was criticised in June by five-times Tour de France winner Bernard Hinault, who called on riders to go on strike if Froome competes at the race.

His victory at the Giro – after earlier wins in the Vuelta and Tour – meant he became only the seventh man to win three successive Grand Tours.

Should he win this year’s Tour, he will become just the second rider, after Belgian Eddy Merckx, to win four Grand Tours on the trot.

He would also join Merckx, Spain’s Miguel Indurain and Frenchmen Jacques Anquetil and Bernard Hinault as a record five-time winner of the three-week race.

In 2011, Spaniard Alberto Contador took part in the Tour, despite an anti-doping case hanging over him after he tested positive for clenbuterol during the 2010 race, which he won.

He was later banned for two years for doping and stripped of his 2010 Tour win.

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