Giro d'Italia director Mauro Vegni says that he 'flatly denies' handing Chris Froome a fee to start the 2018 race
“We spoke to Froome and Team Sky but only about the sporting aspects,” cycling director of the organiser RCS Sport, Mauro Vegni said.
“There was never a relationship based on economics. It was about motivation.
“A start fee for Froome? No. I flatly deny that.”
Insiders previously told Cycling Weekly that Froome will be paid a start fee. The race begins in Jerusalem on May 4 and finishes outside the Rome Colosseum on May 27.
One insider suggested he will be paid €2 million. The local Israeli organiser is expected to pick up the tab, paying roughly €10 million to RCS Sport for the hosting rights and Froome’s fee.
Such deals are not uncommon. RCS Sport said it made a deal with Lance Armstrong in 2009, when Angelo Zomegnan presided, where it paid around $1 million to his Livestrong charity. Other smaller deals are believed to have happened over the years with Alberto Contador, Nairo Quintana and Vincenzo Nibali.
“Suggestions like that [with Froome] create problems for us with other riders,” Vegni said. “Imagine if another rider comes to me and says, ‘You gave Froome something, so what about me?’
“I always deal with the teams. I’ve not personally spoken to Chris Froome, I’ve only spoken to team boss Dave Brailsford.”
Froome would be the third cyclist after Bernard Hinault and Eddy Merckx to win three Grand Tours in a row if he pulls off the Giro victory in May. From there, he would also attempt to win his fifth Tour title in July.
“Froome’s coming because he’s motivated,” Vegni continued.
“I think it’s important for the Giro d’Italia and for Froome that he’s decided to ride. It’s great for the race and will give it even more international attention. It’s also good for Froome because he can try to win all three Grand Tours, one after another.
“I think that is the real reason why he decided to ride. I’ve read some other ideas, but I’d like to know where they get them from.”