Chris Froome: Giro d'Italia-Tour de France double a risk worth taking

Chris Froome
Chris Froome will try to equal the Tour de France record of five wins in July

Britain's Chris Froome says he "would regret it for the rest of my life" if he did not take "a risk" to try and win May's Giro d'Italia before defending his Tour de France title in July.

Froome will become the third man to win three Grand Tours in succession if he claims the Giro, after taking the 2017 Tour and Vuelta a Espana titles.

"Going for a third consecutive Grand Tour has given me new motivation," said the 32-year-old, who will lead Team Sky's eight-man team in the three-week race, which starts on 4 May in Israel.

"I've had a different start to the season as I've been aiming to try and reach my peak quite a bit earlier than usual," added Froome, who usually centres his season around July's Tour, which he has won four times in the past five years.

"Of course there is an element of risk involved in targeting the Giro before the Tour, but I think I would regret it for the rest of my life if I didn't give this race a go."

Froome finished fourth in his warm-up race, the week-long Tour of the Alps this month which was won by France's Thibaut Pinot, who is among the favourites to win the Giro.

Defending champion Tom Dumoulin, Italian Fabio Aru and Britain's Simon Yates are among several riders who will also challenge for the maglia rosa (pink jersey).

Froome to cement place among legends?

Froome became one of the greats when he followed his Tour victory by winning the Vuelta in 2017, becoming only the third man - after France's Bernard Hinault in 1978 and Jacques Anquetil in 1963 - to win both races in the same year. Froome was the first to achieve it since the Vuelta was moved from before to after the Tour.

Hinault won three successive Grand Tours in 1982-83, while Belgian Eddy Merckx - widely acknowledged to be the greatest of all time - won four (two Giros, one Tour and one Vuelta) in a row in 1972-73.

Only six riders - Merckx, Hinault, Anquetil, Italians Felice Gimondi and Vincenzo Nibali and Spain's Alberto Contador - have won all three Grand Tours in their career.

Victory would lift Froome up to sixth on the list of most Grand Tour wins, with six. Merckx leads the way with 11, one ahead of Hinault.

Sky want first Maglia Rosa

There is currently an investigation into Froome's "adverse" drugs test after winning the Vuelta in September, in which he had double the allowed level of legal asthma drug Salbutamol in his urine.

He said: "I also recognise the wider issues and, as I have said before, I am doing everything I can, together with the team, to help resolve them as quickly as possible.

"In the meantime I am focused on racing. I would love to win the maglia rosa, but I am under no illusions whatsoever about how hard the race will be."

The 21-stage, 3562.9km (2,214 miles) race, which opens with three days in Israel before transferring to Italy, features six flat, six hilly and seven mountain stages as well as two individual time trials.

The time trials should suit Froome, who has won two Olympic bronze medals in the discipline and was third at last year's World Championships.

In the mountains he will be helped by team-mates David de la Cruz of Spain, Frenchman Kenny Elissonde, Sergio Henao of Colombia and Dutchman Wout Poels.

Germany's Christian Knees, who was a key domestique in Froome's Tour and Vuelta wins last year, is the road captain, while Vasil Kiryienka of Belarus and Italy's Salvatore Puccio will also play important roles on the flat and in the mountains.

Team Sky principal Dave Brailsford added: "We have been on the podium before (Rigoberto Uran finished second in 2013) but have never won the maglia rosa, which is a great ambition for us."