Mauro Vegni says he understands defending champion Chris Froome's desire to skip the race to maximise his chances of a fifth Tour de France title
The Giro d’Italia organiser hopes that Geraint Thomas (Sky) comes to its 2019 race this May on the heels of his Tour de France win.
Thomas has been rumoured to be attending despite saying otherwise to focus on repeating his Tour title in July. An announcement could come as soon as Thursday.
“Let’s see. We’re waiting and we hope so,” director of the Giro d’Italia, Mauro Vegni told Cycling Weekly.
The Giro runs May 11 to June 2. It includes several high mountain stages with three individual time trials.
Thomas already said in December that it would be the “wrong time” to try to win the Giro d’Italia. He tried in 2017, but a crash ended his attempt.
“I definitely feel there’s unfinished business there [Giro] but next year might be the wrong time,” Thomas told BBC Wales. “It would be a shame to know I wouldn’t be at my best [in the Tour].”
One source close to the team told Cycling Weekly that Thomas will race but that it would be just for fitness and to support Egan Bernal and Gianni Moscon.
“What can I say? For sure we want to have him,” Vegni added. “We have a good race for him with strong rivals. It’s a race were not just one rider will dominate. So it’s a stimulating race for a strong rider.
“And then also you have to consider that when a rider puts everything on one event and it doesn’t work out that he throws away the whole season. A team like Team Sky has several protagonists and they can divide themselves over different races and afford to take a rider to the Giro. This race is very suited to him.”
Chris Froome detoured from his usual Tour focus towards Italy in 2018 and won the Giro d’Italia overall. He then went to the Tour, where he helped Thomas win the overall and took place third.
Vegni understands Froome’s desire to miss a chance of defending his Giro title in order to aim to match the greats with five Tour titles. Froome already won the Tour in 2013, 2015, 2016 and 2017.
“I know that Froome really liked the Giro last year. It’s clear that a rider like him after his Giro win and with his age that he’s thinking about that fifth Tour de France title like the other top riders did in the past,” Vegni explained.
“His objective is very clear and I respect that. Just like when I said to him last year that he had the opportunity to make the triple. He understood that and came to the Giro. Now the objective is five Tour de France wins. I respect that even if he said that in some way in the future he would return to race the Giro.”
On Thursday, Thomas and Froome will be a the Pinerolo stage presentation in northeast Italy along with other stars including Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida), Fabio Aru (UAE Team Emirates) and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team). An announcement on Thomas’s Giro presence could be made then.
With or without Thomas, the 2019 Giro will feature a strong starting roster. Already, several top classification riders have announced their attendance: Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott), Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb), Nibali, Aru, Valverde and Team Sky’s Bernal and Moscon.