'A start fee for Froome? I flatly deny that,' says Giro d'Italia director

Vegni convinced that Froome's presence will not frighten away other contenders

Giro d'Italia race director Mauro Vegni has denied that RCS Sport paid any kind of start fee to help persuade Chris Froome (Team Sky) to ride the 2018 Corsa Rosa.

Froome confirmed he will ride the Giro d'Italia as well as the Tour de France in 2018 in a video message during the official route presentation for the Giro in Milan on Wednesday.

"I'm looking forward to seeing you all on the start line of the 2018 Giro," Froome said in a video broadcast to the crowd gathered in Milan for the route announcement.

"It's something the team have considered carefully and we've talked about a lot," he added in an official announcement from Team Sky.

"We know that it would be a significant feat in the modern era to win both the Giro and the Tour in the same season, but the way we managed things this year gives me confidence that I can successfully target both races."

There have been reports that RCS Sport or another entity had agreed to pay Froome and Team Sky an appearance fee of €2 million.

Vegni denied paying any fee, however.

"We spoke to Froome and Team Sky but only about sporting desire. There was never a relationship based on economics. It was about motivation," Vegni told Cyclingnews and Velonews.

"A start fee for Froome? I flatly deny that. Suggestions like that in the media create problems for us with other riders. Imagine if another rider comes to me and says: 'De Telegraaf wrote you gave Froome something, so what about me?' I always deal with the teams; I've not personally spoken to Chris Froome, I've only spoken to Dave Brailsford."

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Vegni argued that it is important for Froome to try to add the Giro d'Italia to his palmares. He has won the Tour de France four times and the Vuelta a Espana once, but this will be the first time he targets the far more unpredictable Giro d'Italia.

"I think it’s important for the Giro d'Italia and for Froome that he's decided to ride. It's great for the race and will give it even more international attention. It's also good for Froome because he can try to win all three Grand Tours one after another," Vegni suggested.

"I think that's the real reason why he decided to ride. I've read some other ideas but I'd like to know where they get them from. Froome has won the Tour and the Vuelta this year. I don't think a great campione really cares about how many Grand Tours they win, it's just about winning."

Only Froome and Fabio Aru have so far confirmed they will ride the 2018 Giro d'Italia. Vincenzo Nibali and 2017 winner Tom Dumoulin both deferred any formal announcement, with doubts rising that they will forgo the Italian race and instead focus on the Tour de France.

However, Vegni does not think Froome's presence will frighten away other possible contenders.

"If that happened, it'd mean that they're not campione, so I hope they all ride the Giro," Vegni said.

"I hope Dumoulin will ride. He's seen the full route now after seeing some of it in a preview. He needs time to think about it with the team. I hope he rides."

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