Brett Lancaster says if anyone can complete the Grand Tour double, it's Chris Froome
- Words by John Woodhouse
But the Aussie, who guided Froome through the Ruta del Sol, is also aware that outside pressures, such as the ongoing conjecture over the outcome of the UCI’s inquiry into his alleged misuse of salbutamol, could prove a negative influence on his mindset.
“Chris is used to dealing with the media from the sheer number of Grand Tours he’s done,” notes Lancaster, “but at the end of the day he’s a human being, and for anybody it’s going to take an effect.”
However, Lancaster believes Froome has been maintaining his spirits. “He’s been pretty positive from what I have seen,” he says, “and I’ve had good feedback from other people on the team to that effect.
“It’s been great for him to be back in this environment – the bus, the food truck, and the way we work as a team. It’s all a big positive for him. I think it’s done him good to be back racing.”
Lancaster, a veteran of nine Giros, believes the fact that Froome is even thinking of going for the double sets him apart from other riders – especially when the notorious unpredictability of the Italian epic – crashes are hardly unknown – could leave him with nothing at all.
“I know the Giro,” he smiles, “and the beauty of it is you never know what’s going to happen. It’s the most unpredictable of the Grand Tours by some distance.
“It says a lot for Chris that he’s willing to put himself through that. He isn’t a rider who’s happy to sit back and aim everything at the Tour de France. Some would, but not him.
“It says a lot about how much he loves and respects the sport. He wants to challenge himself all the time.”
One thing in Froome’s favour is the extra week that this year’s calendar has thrown up between the races, extending the period to 38 days.
“That’s probably what’s persuaded him to have a go at it,” says Lancaster. “It’s still a huge ask, but if anyone can do it, he can.”
Froome’s will now head to the Italian stage race Tirreno-Adriatico in March in his continued build-up to the Giro, but says he had expected better from his season start at the Ruta del Sol, which saw him finish 10th overall but only place 11th in the final time trial on Sunday.
“Obviously I was coming here for my first race of the season and didn’t know where the form was at,” Froome said.
“This is all part of my build-up now towards my Giro d’Italia but I was probably expecting a little bit better.”