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Giro d'Italia

Change of plans? Report says Thomas may race Giro

The 32-year-old may race the Giro after all this year, according to an Italian newspaper report.

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FLORENCE, Italy (VN) — In four months, Tour de France champion Geraint Thomas (Sky) could line up for the 2019 Giro d’Italia in Bologna.

A report overnight in Italy’s La Gazzetta dello Sport suggested Thomas’s spring schedule is not yet set in stone. Instead of solely targeting the Tour de France as he previously said, the Giro d’Italia — which runs from May 11 to June 2 — could come as a delicious antipasto.

Chris Froome’s successful 2018 season largely came thanks to the same decision last winter. Froome failed to win a fifth Tour title, instead placing third and helping Thomas win. However, Froome won the Giro with a massive, 80.3-kilometer solo move in stage 19 over the Finestre climb. That Giro title and his starring supporting Tour role equalled a five-star 2018 campaign.

Froome has made it clear that for him, the 2019 Tour comes first as he is on a quest to win five titles and join the greats. Thomas already said he wants to race the Tour with the No. 1 bib on his back, but he could find more opportunities in Italy.

The Giro route includes three individual time trials: one at the start in Bologna and one at the end in Verona, with a longer one to San Marino mid-race. The total of 58.5km plus the mountain stages would suit Thomas’s skill set.

Given the 2019 route, Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) decided on a Giro focus in 2019. Afterward, he will line up for the Tour in France. Last year, Dumoulin placed second in both races. He became the first Dutchman to win the Giro in 2017.

If Thomas does race both the Giro and Tour, he would join Dumoulin as well as Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida).

“An official decision will be made in the next days,” wrote La Gazzetta dello Sport in its article. Team Sky did not comment when asked about the possibility of Thomas racing in Bologna on May 11.

The decision is expected by January 24, when Thomas is due to attend a race-related event in Piedmont, Italy, with Froome and Nibali.

Thomas would race the Giro as captain with backup options Egan Bernal and Gianni Moscon.

The Welshman’s presence in Italy would provide Sky plenty of exposure as top brass race to find a replacement sponsor. Sky media group announced in December that it would pull its $40+ million budget at the end of 2019. Team Boss David Brailsford, also expected in Piedmont, has given himself a July deadline to find a new sponsor.

Thomas, however, has given little indication he would race the Giro.

“The main goal for me will be to go back to the Tour de France for the best result I can,” he said earlier this month. “Maybe if I hadn’t have won the Tour in 2018 I might have looked at a Giro-Vuelta program, but having won the Tour, I’ll have the No. 1 on my back and it would be sad not to go back and not to go back at 100 percent.”

The Giro’s roster already includes plenty of stars besides Dumoulin and two-time winner Nibali. Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott), leader for 13 days and winner of three stages, will compete along with Mikel Landa and Alejandro Valverde (both Movistar), Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma), Fabio Aru (UAE Team Emirates), and Miguel Angel López (Astana).