Froome uncertain of Giro d’Italia title defense

Defending champion Chris Froome says he likes the look of the Giro's tough time trial stages but remains undecided on 2019 plan.

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MILAN (AFP) — Defending champion Chris Froome said Wednesday he was still uncertain whether he will defend his Giro d’Italia title as the 102nd edition of the race was presented in Milan.

Froome, 33, became the first British rider to win the Giro last May to complete a ‘grand slam’ after his Tour de France and Vuelta a España wins in 2017.

“I’m not 100 percent sure if I’ll be there at the Giro d’Italia 2019. It’s a decision we’ll have to make in December,” said Froome, who appeared onstage during the presentation.

“The pink jersey for me is a great honor; it had been missing from my collection.

“It was an important jersey for the history of cycling, and something I had dreamed of as a child.

“It’s also an important race for the team as it’s the 10th anniversary of Team Sky.”

Froome finished third in this year’s Tour de France, which was won by Sky teammate Geraint Thomas.

He failed to match the record of five Tour de France victories jointly held by Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault, Jacques Anquetil, and Miguel Indurain.

And with a shorter gap between the end of the Giro on June 2 and the start of the Tour de France on June 29, he could opt to skip the race.

“We’re all together in December at a training camp so I think in that period we will decide everything for next year,” he added.

“One thing is certain if I’m not there one of my teammates will be coming to try to win.”

Last year’s Giro started in Israel, but this year’s race which covers 3,518km will be almost entirely within Italy, apart from a time trial into San Marino.

The race starts with a tough 8.2km time trial in Bologna concluding in an uphill finish at the San Luca Sanctuary which overlooks the city.

“A start like that, with the Bologna time trial, is explosive and interesting,” said Froome.

“It’s a very balanced race, between the time trials and massive mountains.”

The riders will tackle climbs including the Passo Gavia at 2,618m altitude and Passo del Mortirolo with a total of seven summit finishes, two on individual time trials.

The final week will include stiff mountain tests but the overall winner will not be known until the final day and a third individual time trial which finishes in Verona’s amphitheater.

“It’s a brutal, brutal second half,” added Froome. “There’s two quite difficult time trials in the first week which I like.

“A very organized team will be needed too. The stage with Gavia and Mortirolo is a beast. It comes after a rest day and that day the true champions will stand out from the bunch.”

If Froome chooses to skip the Giro, Thomas may step in and carry the mantle for Sky.

“Before this year I would have said no [to racing the Giro and Tour],” Thomas told The Guardian on Tuesday. “Froomey’s done it in previous years and I thought: ‘Wow, he’s special.’ But look at Tom Dumoulin [second in the Giro and Tour in 2018]. Maybe it’s possible.”

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