By Sophie Smith
Stephen Roche believes it’s still possible for riders to win the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France in the same season even though the feat has not been achieved in more than a decade.
Marco Pantani was the last to mark the double in 1998 adding his name to a small but elite club that includes the likes of Roche, Miguel Indurain, Bernard Hinault, Eddy Merckx, Jacques Anquetil and Fausto Coppi.
"This year it’s very possible," Roche told journalists after he was inducted into the Giro d'Italia Hall of Fame in Northern Ireland last month. "[Alberto] Contador is capable of doing it but he’s doing the Tour and the Vuelta. [Chris] Froome is not doing the Giro, he’s only doing the Tour, so the riders that are capable of doing the Giro-Tour this year are not.”
It’s not unusual for riders today to target overall honours at the Tour and the Vuelta a Espana but the Giro-Tour double is less on-trend with general classification contenders typically selecting one or the other.
Bradley Wiggins toyed with the idea in 2013 but didn't see it through. This season, Cadel Evans (BMC) as well as Richie Porte (Sky), Nairo Quintana (Movistar) and Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) have all identified the May 9 to June 1 Giro as a major target but are set to play a different role, if any, when the Tour departs from Yorkshire on July 5.
BMC has indicated it will put its resources behind Tejay van Garderen, rather than former winner Evans, in France whilst Porte, as an example, is due to return as a chief support to defending champion Froome.
Roche dismisses the notion that it is more difficult to win the Giro or the Tour now than it was in his era.
“The Tour I won was the longest in history – 26 days – and the most mountainous in history,” he said. “I only had three weeks between the Giro and the Tour.
“You believe what you make yourself believe,” he continued. “The riders today make themselves believe that it’s impossible to do it and while they think it’s impossible I’m delighted because it means that family of Giro-Tour winners stays very small!
“At the same time, I think it’s definitely possible."
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