Chris Froome (Team Sky) has confirmed he will ride the Giro d'Italia as well as the Tour de France in 2018, revealing his plans via a video message during the official route presentation for the Giro in Milan on Wednesday.
"It's something the team have considered carefully and we've talked about a lot," Froome said. "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.
Speculation over Froome targeting the Italian Grand Tour for the first time has gathered pace in recent weeks, with various figures in the sport - not least the organisers of the Giro - urging the four-time Tour de France champion to try and broaden his palmares.
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Froome won the Vuelta a España for the first time this year, and victory at the Giro would make him the seventh rider in history to win all three Grand Tours. Froome's result in Spain this year was part of his decision to race the Giro.
"The way we managed that period from the Tour through to the Vuelta this season was a great learning experience for us and hopefully something that will stand me in good stead for 2018," Froome said.
"It's a unique situation for me, having won the Tour and Vuelta and now having the opportunity to go to the Giro and attempt to win a third consecutive Grand Tour. It's really exciting to be able to take on a new challenge, to do something that perhaps people wouldn't expect and to mix it up. It's a whole new motivation for me to see if I can pull off something special next year."
Froome has made no secret of the fact that the Tour de France remains the priority in his career, with a record-equalling fifth title now within reach, but he has insisted he would wait to see the route for the Giro before deciding if he'll attempt a double that has only been achieved by seven riders, and not since Marco Pantani in 1998.
Froome has ridden the Giro twice in career, both before he established himself as a Grand Tour contender. In 2009 he rode it with Barloworld, and he returned in 2010 for his first Grand Tour at Team Sky, where he was disqualified on stage 19 for holding onto a motorbike on the Mortirolo climb.
"I feel as if my cycling career started in Italy in some ways," Froome said. I lived there for three years when I began my career as a professional, so having the opportunity to go back to the Giro in the position I am now in, and with the opportunity I have, feels in some ways like completing a circle."
The Giro-Tour double has proved a stumbling block for Froome's rivals in recent years; Alberto Contador won the Giro in 2015 but fell short of the podium at the Tour, while Nairo Quintana finished runner-up in Italy this year but was a shadow of his usual self as he finished 12th in France.
Froome was swayed by the extra week that separates the Giro and Tour in 2018. Normally there's a gap of five weeks, but in order to avoid a clash with the football World Cup in the summer the Tour has been pushed back to make it six weeks, thus easing some of the complications associated with recovering from Giro and peaking again for the Tour.
The double would, in fact, be a quadruple, because if Froome were to pull it off he would have won four Grand Tours in a row. Quintana attributed his lacklustre display at this year's Tour to the accumulation of four consecutive Grand Tours, but Froome, who will accumulate the same ones, has said that with a good winter break he doesn't see it as a factor.
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