Don’t miss out on the latest CyclingTips updates.
While he is vying for a fifth Tour de France win next year, Chris Froome has announced that he will indeed chase victory in the Giro d’Italia beforehand. The feat hasn’t been achieved since Marco Pantani in 1998, with riders such as Alberto Contador, Nairo Quintana and others failing to shine in both races since then.
However while a fifth Tour is a major career target for Froome, the Briton has accepted the risk and announced on Wednesday that he will ride the race. He confirmed his targeting of the event in a short video message screened at the Giro’s route presentation, and elaborated on that in a Team Sky statement.
“It’s a unique situation for me, having won the Tour and Vuelta and now having the opportunity to go to the Giro and attempt to win a third consecutive Grand Tour,” he said. “It’s really exciting to be able to take on a new challenge, to do something that perhaps people wouldn’t expect and to mix it up.
“It’s a whole new motivation for me to see if I can pull off something special next year. I feel as if my cycling career started in Italy in some ways. I lived there for three years when I began my career as a professional, so having the opportunity to go back to the Giro in the position I am now in, and with the opportunity I have, feels in some ways like completing a circle.”
Froome previously rode the race in 2009 and 2010. He was 36th in his debut, then disqualified the following year after he held onto a motorbike on a climb. He hasn’t returned since.
If he were to win the race, he would join Eddy Merckx and Bernard Hinault as the only riders to take three successive Grand Tours. Merckx did so when he won the Giro and Tour in 1972 and the Vuelta in 1973, extending his streak to four successive races when he also took that year’s Giro.
Hinault took the 1982 Giro and Tour, as well as the 1983 Vuelta. At the time the Spanish event was held prior to the Giro and Tour. It has since been moved to its current slot after the French event.
Froome said that the confidence he gained from taking the Tour de France and Vuelta a España in the same year is part of his reason for attempting the Giro/Tour double.
“It’s something the team have considered carefully and we’ve talked about a lot,” he said. “We know that it would be a significant feat in the modern era to win both the Giro and the Tour in the same season, but the way we managed things this year gives me confidence that I can successfully target both races.”
He said that the timing of the event was also a consideration.
“Another factor is that there is an extra week between next year’s Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France. That’s one more week for recovery and for training than there would be normally, which I think potentially makes it more manageable and conducive to being able to hit both races in great shape.
“The way we managed that period from the Tour through to the Vuelta this season was a great learning experience for us and hopefully something that will stand me in good stead for 2018.”
Media reports this week suggested that he might also receive an appearance fee of two million euro, although this is yet to be officially confirmed.
While there is a chance that Froome could flop at the Tour after digging deep in the Giro, Team Sky Principal Dave Brailsford believes that the team leader can do it.
“Some of cycling’s greatest stories have been played out at the Giro d’Italia and next year gives us the chance to write a chapter of our own,” he said. “We’ll be taking Chris to the Giro with the aim of winning three consecutive Grand Tours, and then going on to France with the goal of winning the Tour.
“It’s something that we have looked at in detail as a team. Some of the very best riders have attempted to win the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France in the same season but very few have been successful, so it’s a challenge we have enormous respect for.
“But it’s challenges like this that speak to what we’re about as a team – setting ambitious targets, preparing for them properly and being ready to put it all on the line.”
He said that the team was ‘really excited’ about 2018 and that the challenge was a new motivation for the squad. He said this was also the case for Froome.
“Chris has established himself as one of the greats of our sport. He’s certainly one of its fiercest competitors, and the great competitors take on the biggest challenges.”