Speculation is continuing to build that Froome will attempt to ride and win both races in 2018 – as long as the Giro route suits him.
Froome proved in 2017 for the first time that he is capable of winning back-to-back Grand Tours, winning the Tour de France in July for a fourth time and then claiming the Vuelta a España victory in September.
With a strong Sky team around him for both three-week races, Froome went largely unchallenged by the cream of the current crop of Grand Tour racers. Now, surely, even Froome must be eyeing a chance to win a third consecutive Grand Tour when the Giro starts in May.
Although the full Giro route has yet to be officially announced, the 2018 race’s confirmed start in Jerusalem would look attractive to Froome: a 10.1km time trial followed by two relatively flat stages.
What follows is unknown to the general public, but the Giro’s organiser RCS Sport would surely love to see a showdown between 2017 champion Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb) and Froome. The Times reported on Tuesday that the Sky team is ‘closely examining the route’, or what they know of it so far.
There are several other factors at play that could entice Froome to go for the Giro-Tour double. The first is the extra week between the two races due to the Tour’s shift in start date to avoid the football World Cup – giving a valuable and unusual extra seven days to recover. An opportunity like that does not happen often.
Another factor is that Sky’s nominated Giro leader for the past two seasons, Mikel Landa, has now left the squad to join Movistar. This leaves the way open for Froome to lead the team during the Giro without fear of spoiling anyone else’s Grand Tour leadership ambitions.
However, Froome has not had as intense a relationship with the Giro as he has had with the Tour or Vuelta. He has taken part in the Italian Grand Tour just twice, in 2009 and 2010. The latter saw him disqualified for holding on to a motorbike on the Mortirolo climb – something that seems quite ludicrous now given Froome’s subsequent Grand Tour climbing achievements.
Also playing against Froome are the Giro’s weather conditions, which can often serve up a day or two of foul weather in the high mountains with heavy rain, snow and cold conditions. None of which the Kenyan-raised Froome has traditionally coped with well. The chance of catching a cold is a risk that could set back his Tour preparations.
So far, Froome himself has not committed to saying whether he will ride the 2018 Giro or not. As well as waiting for full details of the Giro route – announced later this month – Froome may also consider the fate of Grand Tour rival Nairo Quintana (Movistar), who attempted the Giro-Tour double in 2017.
Quintana put in a strong enough performance in the Giro, placing second behind Dumoulin but looked really out of form in the Tour, finishing in 12th spot overall to establish his worst performance in the race in his career.
Quintana – winner of the Giro in 2014 – subsequently said that it was too much to try and tackle both races in one season.
One thing is almost certain: Froome will simply not jeopardise his chance to win a fifth Tour title in 2018 by riding the Giro unless he is absolutely sure he can win it. Nothing will be gained by riding the Giro and finishing on anything lower than the top step of the podium.
So if Froome does put his name down for the Giro, his rivals can be sure he will turn up in peak condition and be serious about challenging for a historic victory.