‘I loved the Giro but going for Tour number five is what dreams are made of’

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I’m going to keep going – Froome

Chris Froome says a chance to make cycling history is why he is targeting this summer’s Tour de France rather than defending his Giro d’Italia title.

Froome lost out to Geraint Thomas a year ago but is one win from equalling the record of five Tour titles.

“I want to try to get up there with Eddy Merckx, Jacques Anquetil, Bernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain,” he said.

“The fact that only four people in history have done that means it would be massive if I could achieve it.”

The Giro, which starts in Bologna on Saturday, is the first of the year’s three Grand Tour races, with the Tour following in July and Spain’s Vuelta a Espana starting in August.

In 2018 Froome became the first Briton to win the Giro and the third man to hold all three titles – having won the Tour and Vuelta in 2017 – following Hinault in 1982-83 and Merckx, who won four consecutive Grand Tours in 1972-73.

His success in Italy’s three-week race last year was followed by Thomas at the Tour and Simon Yates at the Vuelta, meaning British riders have won the past five Grand Tours.

“I loved riding the Giro – it was such a different challenge,” Froome told BBC 5 Live’s BeSpoke podcast.

“It’s the hardest Grand Tour for me personally to win, given my riding style and my characteristics.”

The winner of the Tour de France in 2013, 2015, 2016 and 2017, added: “The Vuelta is probably the most enjoyable Grand Tour of the three for me. That time of year in Spain is super-hot, and I love those conditions – so gruelling, so savage. From a pure, suffering point of view, the Vuelta really pushes you to your limits.

“But for now, the Tour is the big aim – I’m putting all my eggs in that basket, not spreading myself thin all across the calendar.”

Froome will be 34 by the time the 2019 Tour begins on 6 July in Brussels, the location of the opening stage itself a tribute to Merckx’s first yellow jersey triumph 50 years ago.

Only one man, Belgium’s Firmin Lambot, has ever won the Tour’s general classification after their 35th birthday, and that was back in 1922.

“It’s a huge motivation for me,” said Froome. “I just feel I’m in such a privileged position now. To have that opportunity to go in and try to win number five – this is what dreams are made of.

“I definitely don’t feel as if I’m close to retiring. I’d like to keep trying for the next few years to win as many Tours as I can.

“It’s not getting any easier – the level is getting harder and harder every year. But I’m in an amazing position where I can go for number five, and I know I have the backing of the best team in the world to try to do that.”

A year ago, Froome won the Giro in spectacular fashion with a long-range solo break on the final Friday.

That extraordinary ride up the Colle della Finestre destroyed the hopes of Simon Yates, who had worn the race leader’s maglia rosa for 13 days and won three stages en route to what looked like being his debut Grand Tour triumph.

“You can go through months and months of training and preparation to be ready for a race, but nothing compares to that split-second in a race where you have that ability to push on, and you can literally see the pain on other people’s faces as they can’t follow that pace,” said Froome.

“The satisfaction that gives you is amazing. It’s just the most incredible feeling. It makes all the months of training and sacrifices worth it.

“But I feel a lot fresher this year. A year ago I was going into the Giro as my fourth Grand Tour in a row, and I’d won the last three.

“I felt as if I was burning the candle at both ends. I’m not doing the Giro this year, I didn’t do the Vuelta at the end of last year.

“So I had a really good winter, really stayed on it, and I came into the season a lot more rested, a lot more focused than I did last year.”

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/cycling/48203976

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