• Astana team boss Alexandr Alexandr Vinokurov with Fabio Aru at the 2016 Tour de France. (Corbis Sport)Source: Corbis Sport
Team Astana has confirmed its star rider Fabio Aru will do the Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a España double and take a gap year from the Tour de France in 2017.
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Cycling Central
9 Nov 2016 - 7:11 AM  UPDATED 9 Nov 2016 - 8:56 AM

Aru rode the Tour in 2016, finishing 13th overall, but with the first three stages of the Giro taking place in and around his Sardinian home, the decision should come as no surprise. 

It also mirrors the schedule planned by Orica-BikeExchange's Esteban Chaves and sets up a showdown between two of the brightest talents in the sport.

Chaves chooses Giro over Tour in 2017
After surveying the course profiles of the 2017 Giro d'Italia and Tour de France Orica-BikeExchange Colombian star Esteban Chaves has opted to again race the former.

What remains to be seen is if Aru's former Astana stablemate, Vincenzo Nibali, soon to captain the new Bahrain-Merida team, will also join the party.

With two Sicilian stages planned, one a climb from Cefalù to Mount Etna the other, Pedara to Nibali's hometown of Messina, it's likely he too will opt to join the youngsters at the start line in Alghero.

Barring calamity, the battle for the 100th edition of the race is likely to come down to that trio of riders.

Astana said that the Giro will be its primary Grand Tour focus in 2017 and will rely on Jakob Fuglsang, a silver medalist at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, and Colombian Miguel Angel Lopez to spearhead the Tour duties before Aru again leads at the Vuelta.

Lopez recently suffered a knee fracture in a training crash at home in Colombia but will return to racing at the 2017 Tour of Turkey.

The 28-rider squad will ride in the same colours as 2016 and on Argon 18 bikes rather than Specialized.