It’s like a mountain stage in the Tour de France, Team Sky on the front, and every rival watching for Chris Froome’s next move. The grand tour show revolves around where Froome goes and his competitors react accordingly.
When Froome made the surprise announcement that he plans to ride the Giro d’Italia, it sent shockwaves through the peloton and perhaps shifted the plans of more than a few stars.
When Froome decides to try and win the Giro, then Tom Dumoulin perhaps changes his goal from defending his Giro crown to skipping Italy for France and Le Grand Shindig. It’s a golden opportunity for the Dutchman to score his first Tour victory with Froome leg-weary from the Giro or perhaps injured in a crash in the first grand tour of the season. For the Giro, it’s gain Froome, perhaps lose Dumoulin and race boss Mauro Vegni is happy to take that deal.
Italian Vincenzo Nibali is always tempted by his home tour but with Froome riding the Giro, the Shark from Messina will plan to be far away in May. He’ll need to be as fresh as possible to have a better shot against Froome then his did this year, following behind the Briton up and down every mountain in France. It was terribly sad to watch a shark so tame and helpless.
While Froome will gain an extra week of recovery due to the Tour moving back its start date to avoid a conflict with the World Cup, it’s still a big ask, mentally and physically. However, in all likelihood, he won’t have to worry about Dumoulin.
Meanwhile Fabio Aru and Mikel Landa suddenly have a depressing problem on their hands. Froome beat Aru to a pulp in the 2017 Tour so the Italian will either have to raise his game. Aru says Froome will “elevate” the race, which sounds like the top step of the podium. That makes Aru a skilled descender.
Mikel Landa wanted to get out from under the shadow of Froome at Team Sky. He plans to be Movistar’s leader in the Giro d’Italia and now has the unique opportunity to beat his former boss. That’s extra motivation but we’re guessing Landa would have preferred an easier time winning his first grand tour.
One thing is for sure: Chris Froome has already eliminated one of his top rivals a full six months before the start of the Giro in Israel. The Butterfly of Maastricht will fly to France, not Italy.