Froome, who won the 2018 Giro, will skip the corsa rosa this season as he bids to win a record-equalling fifth Tour. The 22-year-old Bernal has been pencilled in as Team Sky’s leader for the Giro, but there has been increasing speculation in recent weeks that he will be joined in the line-up by Thomas, despite the Welshman previously announcing that he would build his 2019 campaign around the Tour.
"When you speak with Egan you struggle to believe he's so young. He has an incredible maturity and ability to read the race. For me, he can win at the first attempt," Froome told Il Corriere della Sera.
At an event in Pinerolo last week, Sky manager Dave Brailsford said that a decision on Thomas’ Giro participation would be taken in the coming weeks. The Welshman, who starts his season at next week’s Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana, rode the 2017 Giro, but was forced to abandon in the second week following his crash at the base of the Blockhaus on stage 9.
"Geraint has a score to settle after the incident that cost him the maglia rosa two years ago. And the route is perfect for him," said Froome, who downplayed the idea that Thomas' participation in the Giro would leave him as Sky's sole leader at the Tour: "At Sky, we always ride for the team. Last year, Geraint's victory at the Tour made me really happy."
Froome placed third at last year's Tour but, at 34 years of age, he believes he can still equal Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain by carrying the maillot jaune to Paris for a fifth time this July.
"I’ve won four and I'm at the right age to leave a legacy. Winning a fifth would be the best way to close the circle," said Froome.
While Froome insisted that he would return to the Giro before his career ended, he admitted that he had just one other major objective beyond landing another Tour: "The Olympics road race in Tokyo, which seems really hard. I'll have to change my programme, but it will be worth it."
Froome is currently in Colombia, where he is training at altitude ahead of his first race of the season, the Tour Colombia. He is scheduled to ride the UAE Tour, Volta a Catalunya, Tour of Yorkshire and Critérium du Dauphiné ahead of the Tour de France.
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