Froome tempted but uncertain of Giro d’Italia title defence

Chris Froome is the reigning Giro d’Italia champion. (AFP pic)

MILAN: Defending champion Chris Froome said on Wednesday he was still uncertain whether he will defend his Giro d’Italia title despite being tempted by the “explosive and interesting” nature of the 102nd edition of the race which was unveiled 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.

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

“I like this edition of the Giro very much; it can be won only by a complete rider. It’s a balanced course in between mountains and time trials.”

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

With a shorter gap between the end of the Giro on June 2 and the start of the Tour de France on June 29, the four-time winner could opt to skip the Italian race.

“I’m not 100%  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 honour, 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 tenth anniversary of Team Sky.”

“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.

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

It starts with a tough 8.2-kilometre time trial in Bologna and then heads southwest to Fucecchino and into Tuscany.

The riders will tackle climbs including the Passo Gavia at an altitude of 2,618 metres on stage 16 and Passo del Mortirolo with a total of seven summit finishes between the Dolomites and Alps.

“It’s a brutal, brutal second half,” added Froome.

Italian Elia Viviani, who won the points jersey last year, believes the first week can make a difference for the sprinters.

“I’ve got good feelings about this Giro,” said the 29-year-old.

“The last week of racing will be incredibly tough for the sprinters but I’m looking at this Giro with the goal of arriving in the wonderful Verona, my home town.”

A number of important social and cultural references will be made during the three-week race.

The third stage starts at Vinci in Tuscany to honour Leonardo da Vinci 500 years after his death, with the ninth stage in the central Abruzzo region which was devastated by an earthquake in 2009, followed by a stop in Pesaro, birthplace of composer Gioachino Rossini.