Team Sky have confirmed the major targets of their three key Grand Tour riders with Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas set to focus on the Tour de France in 2019, while Egan Bernal will lead his first Grand Tour at the Giro d’Italia.
Both Froome and Thomas had toyed with the idea of heading to the Giro d’Italia this season but did not go through with it. Froome rode the Giro in 2018 for the first time in eight years. He won the race after a dramatic fight back on the Colle delle Finestre but the race took its toll and he finished third at the Tour de France behind Thomas and Tom Dumoulin.
Froome decided that it was better to skip the Italian race as he looks to enter his name into the history books with a fifth Tour de France title.
"I’m getting to the point in my career now where I’m starting to think about what kind of legacy I want to leave behind and if I am able to win the Tour de France for a fifth time and join that very elite group of bike riders - only four other people have ever done that - it would just be incredible,” said Froome.
"It’s been a hard decision to figure out exactly what to do in 2019 and figure out which Grand Tours to focus on, especially having won the Giro last year and having had such an amazing time out there with the team – but for 2019, my number one objective is going to be the Tour de France.
"It was definitely a difficult decision not to go back to the Giro d’Italia and defend the maglia rosa. I’ve got some amazing memories from last year, but I think, with the Tour de France as my main objective, it’s probably better that I skip the Giro d’Italia in 2019.”
After taking his first Tour de France title last summer, Thomas was eager to be in top form for when he gets the opportunity to ride the race with the number 1 on his back. Thomas won two stages and spent half the race in yellow, beating Dumoulin by 1:51 in the end. As well as his bid to defend his Tour de France title, Thomas is also targeting the World Championships in Yorkshire at the end of September.
"The main goal for me will be to go back to the Tour de France for the best result I can,” explained Thomas. “Maybe if I hadn’t won the Tour in 2018 I might have looked at a Giro/Vuelta programme but, having won the Tour, I’ll have the number one on my back and it would be sad not to go back and not to go back at 100 per cent as well.
"The year will be geared around that, but I’m also looking forward to a slightly different programme as well, and obviously after the Tour, the Worlds in Yorkshire will be massive.”
Bernal had hinted at the chance that he would ride the Giro d’Italia earlier this week, and the team has now confirmed that he will be the leader for the race. The 21-year-old Bernal made his Grand Tour debut at the 2018 Tour de France and finished 15th overall as he worked for Froome and Thomas.
"The Giro is a race that I really, really like. I lived in Italy for three years, so I have a lot of friends there and I really like the Italian fans. I know the roads, I really like the Giro, and I want to do a good race there,” said Bernal.
Bernal will make his season debut at the Tour Colombia, where Froome is also due to begin his season. Froome is also scheduled to ride the UAE Tour at the end of February.
The 2019 Giro d’Italia will begin on May 5, while the Tour de France is set to start in Brussels on July 7.