As Chris Froome (Team Sky) confirmed the rumours that he will line up for the 101st Giro d'Italia when the race rolls out of Jerusalem on May 4, his potential rivals for the final maglia rosa in Rome took note.
Team Sunweb's Tom Dumoulin, who won the race in 2017, joined two-time Giro winner Vincenzo Nibali [2013 and 2016] and 2015 Giro runner-up Fabio Aru in saying the four-time Tour de France winner's participation would elevate the level of the race, but all three held their own cards close their chests.
"Froome is the biggest Grand Tour rider in the world at the moment, so it means a lot for the Giro," Dumoulin, who revealed he's still deciding if he will defend his 2017 title. "A new race means a new route and a new start."
Nibali, who also has not revealed if he will ride the Giro, said Froome is one of the greats.
"He won the last four Tours and the Vuelta," the Italian said. "His presence will honour the race. He'll be one of the biggest riders to beat and so mean a huge challenge. He's also got one of the strongest teams."
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Aru, who has won three Giro stages, finishing second overall in 2015 and third in 2014, said Froome, who hasn't ridden then Giro since he was disqualified in 2010, will find plenty of challenges in the Italian Grand Tour.
"Chris is a great rider and will make the Giro even more special," Aru said. "But there are always a lot of champs at the Giro, and so he won't be alone."
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