Chris Froome (Team Sky) has reiterated that winning a fifth Tour de France will be his priority in 2017, despite calls for him to tackle the Giro d'Italia next season for the first time since 2010, the year before his sudden emergence as a Grand Tour contender.
On Sunday, Froome became the first rider since Bernard Hinault in 1978 to win the Tour and Vuelta a España in the same season, and Hinault told William Fotheringham of the Guardian that he believed Froome's next rendezvous ought to be the Giro.
"The Giro isn't a race I have ruled out," Froome told L'Équipe. "But everything would have to be very well planned so that it wouldn't compromise my objective of winning a fifth Tour de France. That remains the principal objective of my career, my priority."
While the Tour is a certainty on Froome's 2018 schedule, he suggested that the rest of his calendar will depend on the routes of the other Grand Tours. Froome has raced the Vuelta in six of the past seven seasons, missing the race just once, in the wake of his first Tour win in 2013.
"It's hard to say at the moment, it's a bit early," Froome said of his 2018 programme. "I have to see the route of next year's Giro and Tour. And the Vuelta, too. Based on that, I'll be able to make some decisions."
Froome appeared to rule out the prospect of attempting to win all three Grand Tours in one season. "That's quite a savage challenge. You'd need an enormous amount of preparation and attention to detail to be able to attempt it," he said.
This year marked Froome's fifth attempt at winning the Vuelta having raced the Tour de France a month previously, but he said it was the first occasion that he had targeted the double so rigorously.
"Above all, my preparation was different. I never did such a specific block," Froome said. "Normally, I stayed at home [after the Tour] because I thought I needed a break between two Grand Tours. The team's preparation was also different. All of the climbers came and trained at altitude with me, except for Mikel Nieve. That gave everyone a goal, I felt we rallied around this objective."
Although Froome carried a lead of just 23 seconds into the final weekend of the Tour, the strength of his Sky team was such that he seemed to be holding his rivals at arm's length, and he admitted to L'Équipe that he emerged from the race feeling fresher than he had done after his previous overall victories.
"The Tour was hard, obviously, but I found that it was less demanding than in certain other years," Froome said. "I wasn't on my knees in the last three days. Three days after the finish, I already felt ready to start training again. That was all due to the structure of this year's Tour. It was a more tactical race than in previous seasons. The leaders didn't really show their cards, unlike the Vuelta. That allowed me to recover more quickly."
During the Vuelta, a report from French magazine show Stade 2 cast doubt on the effectiveness of the tablet devices used by the UCI to test for mechanical doping. Froome was aware, too, of videos circulating on social media that purported to demonstrate that his bike was suspect.
"I found that quite funny. My bike was tested numerous times, so people who really believe that…" Froome said.
Asked if he knew how often his bike had been tested, Froome said, "No, I don't know precisely, but I know that on several occasions it was tested up to three times a day."
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