Froome motivated by history in Giro bid
Want to watch the Giro d’Italia? Stream all the stages on Fubo.tv for a special first-month introductory rate of $19.99. Subscribe now >>
JERUSALEM (AFP) — Chris Froome is trying to put his tumultuous Giro d’Italia preparations behind him as he focuses on making history.
Froome has won the last two grand tours — the Vuelta a Espana last September and the Tour de France last July.
Should he win the Giro this month, he would become only the third man — and the first in 35 years — to hold all three grand tour titles at the same time.
The other two, Eddy Merckx and Bernard Hinault, are amongst the sport’s greats, as they each won the Tour de France a record five times.
Four-time Tour winner Froome, 32, would like to try to emulate them in July, should he be allowed to race, but for now it is the Giro occupying his thoughts.
“That’s a huge motivation for me, that was part of my decision-making process in deciding to be here, in that I won the Tour last year and the Vuelta,” he said when asked about cycling’s grand tour grand slam.
“I can’t remember the last time a rider won three grand tours consecutively like that — it’s a huge point for me.”
His adverse analytical finding from a doping test during the Vuelta last year hangs heavily on his shoulders, though, with much of the talk leading up to the Giro centered on whether or not he should even be participating.
The rules of the UCI, cycling’s governing body, do not preclude him from continuing to race as he fights to clear his name and avoid a doping ban. But UCI president David Lappartient has said Froome should withdraw from professional racing pending a solution to his case.
Giro organizers, though, are delighted to have the sport’s biggest star lining up in a dream scenario, taking on last year’s champion Tom Dumoulin and Italian Fabio Aru.
Even the potentially explosive decision to start the race in Jerusalem, followed by two stages around Israel, hasn’t dampened Froome’s enthusiasm.
“I’ve been pleasantly surprised. There was obviously a lot of talk before coming here about the security concerns, but it’s been fantastic,” Froome said.
Dutchman Dumoulin, 27, could not hide his excitement at the prospect of starting the race in such a fabled and atmospheric city.
“Our hotel is near the Old City, I couldn’t help myself so I took the bike and rode a lap around the whole city and also through the whole city,” said the Sunweb team leader.
“I was getting a lot of eyes — ‘who’s this guy?’ — because I was in normal clothes but on a special road bike.”
Dumoulin’s presence creates a particular challenge for Froome, who has previously been used to putting time into his climbing specialist rivals during time trials. That won’t be the case against Dumoulin, the world time trial champion, who can also hold his own on the climbs.
“On paper, I’m certainly not going to be able to rely on time trialing to try and win the Giro,” said the Briton.
“The race is an extremely well-balanced race this year: there are time trials but also a lot of mountains.”
Those two certainly won’t be able to keep their powder dry in the mountains while waiting for the races against the clock, though, as there are six summit finishes and a host of talented climbers hungry for success.
“I won’t be conserving myself in front of Froome,” said Aru, who has previously finished second and third at the Giro and vowed to ride “an attacking race.”
The 27-year-old pointed to the likes of Frenchman Thibaut Pinot, who won last month’s Tour of the Alps, Italian Domenico Pozzovivo and Colombia’s Miguel Angel Lopez as being “in great form.”
“There could be 15 riders aiming for a high finish,” he added, mentioning Colombia’s Esteban Chaves, Simon Yates of Britain, New Zealander George Bennett, and Canada’s Michael Woods.