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Cycling | Giro

Chris Froome © Gallo Images

Froome to bid for Grand Tour treble



Tour de France champion Chris Froome confirmed on Wednesday he will race in next year's Giro d'Italia from Jerusalem to Rome as he targets a treble of Grand Tour wins.

"Ciao (hello) everyone, I'm looking forward to seeing you all on the start line of the 2018 Giro d'Italia," Froome said in a short video message played during the 2018 route presentation ceremony in Milan.

The 32-year-old said that it was "a whole new motivation" to go for a third consecutive Grand Tour trophy after winning both the Tour de France and Vuelta a Espana last year.

The four-time Tour de France winner has competed in the Giro just twice and not since his disqualification in 2010 for holding onto a motorbike.

"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," said Kenyan-born Froome, attempting to become just the seventh man to win all three Grand Tours.

He would be only the third cyclist in history to hold all three titles at the same time, a feat previously achieved by Eddy Merckx in 1973 and Bernard Hinault in 1983.

The Briton claimed his maiden Vuelta a Espana title in September to become just the third rider, after Frenchmen Jacques Anquetil (1963) and Hinault (1978), to win the Tour and Vuelta in the same year.

Froome will also try to become the first rider since the late Marco Pantani in 1998 to achieve a Giro and Tour double in the same season.

"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," he said.

"It's a whole new motivation for me to see if I can pull off something special next year.

"I feel as if my cycling career started in Italy in some ways. 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."

'SIGNIFICANT FEAT'

Froome and Team Sky have taken confidence from this season's successful Tour and Vuelta double.

"We know that it would be a significant feat in the modern era, but the way we managed things this year gives me confidence that I can successfully target both races," he said.

Froome would have a six-week break between the end of the Giro on May 21 and the start of the Tour on July 7 – one week longer than usual – to recover from a mountain-packed final week.

The British team has had little success on the Giro with Bradley Wiggins in 2010 and 2013 and Richie Porte also forced out in 2015.

Froome will be up against home favourites Fabio Aru and Vincenzo Nibali along with defending champion Tom Dumoulin.

"Froome is a strong rider and his presence makes the race harder and more interesting," said Dutch rider Dumoulin.

Two-time Giro winner Nibali added: "He'll be one of the biggest riders to beat and so it's a huge challenge."

Froome's announcement overshadowed the unveiling of the route which begins in Israel – the first time one of cycling's three major races has started outside Europe.

After an individual time trial in Jerusalem on May 4 the race stays in Israel for two more days with finishes in Tel Aviv and Eilat, on the Red Sea.

From Isreal the race heads to Italy, landing for three stages in Sicily, like last year, with a mountain finish on stage six, on Mount Etna.

There are eight mountain stages – four in a testing final week beginning with the steep climb to the summit of Monte Zoncolan on stage 14 followed by three consecutive stages in the Alps.

Two time-trials are scheduled in Jerusalem and Trento, on stage 16, with the race culminating for just the fourth time in Rome on May 21.



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