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Giro d'Italia

Froome cracks open door for possible 2017 Giro start

There's a chance Chris Froome will race the 2017 Giro d'Italia

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MADRID (VN) — Chris Froome (Sky) gave his strongest hint yet that he might race the 2017 Giro d’Italia.

Sources have told VeloNews there is a possibility Froome will race the Italian grand tour’s centenary next season. On Sunday, Froome reiterated that the Tour de France will remain his central focus, but he did not rule it out when asked by VeloNews if he might racing the Giro next season.

“I am always open to anything, and I wouldn’t write it off,” said Froome, giving his strongest hint a Giro start might be possible. “The most important thing is to see what routes the organizers go with, and see what takes my fancy.”

Having Froome race the Giro would be a huge boon for RCS Sports, and they could possibly design a route ideal for Froome’s chances to win. How might that look? A course that would look very much like a Tour de France, with long climbs and even longer time trials.

Froome hasn’t raced the Giro since 2010, and has made the Tour de France the central focus of his season since 2012. Since his breakout 2011 Vuelta a España performance, he’s also included the Spanish tour as part of his racing season every year, except following his first Tour win in 2013. Froome uses the Vuelta to help give him a solid foundation going into the off-season, but he also enjoys racing in Spain.

If he decided to race the Giro in May, it would mark a major departure from his established blueprint. Bradley Wiggins tried to win the Giro in 2013, and was soon sent home thanks to crashes, sickness, and a dose of Italy’s infamously inconsistent spring weather.

It would be a big bet for Froome to race the Giro ahead of the Tour. He’s already had a long season that started in January in Australia, and included a trip to Brazil for the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games. So to storm into next May ready to win the Giro might be a stretch.

When asked if he was somehow risking his aura of invincibility by racing the Vuelta each year, Froome countered that he simply enjoys racing in Spain.

“I love to racing the Vuelta, so I am happy to be here, no matter the result,” Froome said. “How people perceive that, that is up to them, but I am happy to be here.”

Will he be back to the Vuelta in 2017? That might depend on what the grand tour race organizers serve up. With the Vuelta becoming ever harder — several riders called the 2016 Vuelta the hardest grand tour they’ve ever done — racing the Giro ahead of the Tour might not be such a stretch.

No one has managed to win the Giro-Tour double since Marco Pantani in 1998. Alberto Contador tried in 2015, but later said racing hard to beat back Astana’s Fabio Aru and Mikel Landa, as well as suffering a bad crash, left him short of legs to take on the Tour.

It’s clear that Froome isn’t one to back down from a challenge. The Giro-Tour double would put him into another league entirely. Let’s see what the Giro organizers deliver.