Team Sky star confident of returning to top form for the Tour
Froome will be racing for a fifth Tour title and a fourth consecutive Grand Tour win on the heels of a Giro d’Italia title taken after a hard campaign through Italy.
However the Tour could prove a Grand Tour too far after Froome’s Italian travails. Before arriving to the meat of the race in Italy’s north, Froome crashed in the Israeli Big Start and hit the deck again in Sicily. He fought back in the final week, which included a massive 80km solo ride to the Jafferau ski station on stage 19.
Froome himself is uncertain what shape he will be in come July, but says that he is hopeful of returning to the Tour in good condition having only top form in the final week of the Giro d’Italia.
“Is it going to cost me in the Tour? That’s a good question and we might not find out until we get to July,” Froome said after donning the pink jersey on the podium near Rome’s Colosseum .
“I am optimistic. Given that I arrived at the Giro not necessarily 100 per cent unlike some of my rivals and that I built into the race. I feel like that I will be able to recover from this. I hope to go into the Tour as well in very competitive shape.”
Cycling counts few warriors who can claim Giro and Tour victories in the same year. The last went by ‘Il Pirata’ – the Italian ‘Pirate’ Marco Pantani who won the double 20 years ago in 1998.
“As we’ve seen in the past, it is a very difficult undertaking. I believe it is possible. It is still a bit early to talk about that,” Froome continued. “I am still in the moment at the Giro, just soaking this up. It is such an amazing feeling and experience so far.”
With the pink party in Rome, which includeded an all-pink Pinarello bike for Froome to ride, thoughts of training for the Tour must have seemed seem hard. Froome, however, has began his training already.
Froome would be coming off an incredible run that includes the 2017 Tour de France and the Vuelta a España titles along with this Giro triumph. He is only the third in history, after Bernard Hinault and Eddy Merckx, to win three consecutive Grand Tours.
“That was a big part of the motivation for me to come to this year’s Giro was to try to win consecutive Grand Tours in a row,” he added. “There’s no bigger goal for a Grand Tour rider.”
Watch: Tour de France 2018 route guide
The ongoing investigation into Froome’s adverse analytical finding at the 2017 Vuelta a España means that that title is still up in the air. Cycling Weekly understands that race organisers are still holding on to the prize money due to the possibility of Froome being suspended and stripped of the title.
The salbutamol case, together with his spectacular 80km solo ride on stage 19, have caused some to raise eyebrows on social media, but Froome himself says that his ride will stand the test of time and that he is confident about getting a positive outcome from the ongoing investigation.
“That’s something we are dealing with,” Froome continued. “I certainly have got a clear conscious, and like I’ve said, once the time is right, we will share the information with everyone, and I am sure they will see it from our point of view.”
The manner of Froome’s Giro win means that his victory will be one for the ages. Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) held the jersey for 13 days and won three summit finishes. But Froome took home the trophy by conquering over some of the race’s most famous climbs – Monte Zoncolan and the Colle delle Finestre – and escaping solo in a manner that many compared to Fausto Coppi’s monumental solo attack on stage 17 of the 1949 Giro d’Italia.
“It feels as if this has been the battle of my career. To get off to a less-than-ideal start in Jerusalem. I kept getting knocked down,” Froome added.
“My team said, ‘Wait, this race is brutal. We’re going to get to the last three days and the race can really change.’ It has been an absolutely brutal race for me and everyone else. Everyone was on the limit. I am really happy to have gotten the jersey.”