• Chris Froome decision to go for the Giro-Tour double in 2018 is his attempt to write his own slice of history. (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
For someone who often gets labelled as predictable, this week Chris Froome was anything but. And pro cycling's all the better for it, writes Anthony Tan.
Cycling Central
1 Dec 2017 - 11:18 AM  UPDATED 1 Dec 2017 - 11:23 AM

Well, I didn't see that one coming.

When I first heard that next year's Giro d'Italia would start in the city where Jesus was crucified some 2000 years ago, the only thing stranger than having a Grand Tour start outside Europe, I thought, would be if Chris Froome attempted the double.

The Giro-Tour double that is. The double which, two years ago, Alberto Contador tried then failed, followed by Nairo Quintana's unsuccessful bid this season.

I think Monsieur Froome was getting a little bored with the ease with which he was winning Le Tour.

'Failure' is a harsh word, since Bertie ran 1st and 5th at the Giro then Tour, and plucky Nairo 2nd and 12th. But if we're being brutally honest, a failed attempt is what it was.

After Quintana self-immolated at the Tour, Cycling Central editor Phil Gomes went as far to say that "the Giro/Tour double died with Pantani", the troubled Italian the last to accomplish the feat back in 1998, albeit off his chops on a wicked cocktail of then-undetectable drugs.

That was 20 years ago. Apart from his death from a suspected cocaine overdose in 2004, professional cycling has since cleaned up its act. Mucho, we're told, ad nauseam.

We're told that what was done in the noughties and early to mid-2000s is no longer feasible (how you doin', by the way, Lance?), and Contador and Quintana, two of the most outstanding riders of their generation, failing to emulate il Pirata's annus mirabilis is living proof. The only rider remotely capable of such a feat would be Froome - but he would never jeopardise joining the FTTWC (that of course being the Five-time Tour Winners' Club) till after he got there.

He never said that. We said that. We all did.

It seems, however, that Froome thrives on fear of failure. Either that, or, at 32 years old, he feels so confident in winning a fifth Grande Boucle next July, that he might as well have a crack at the Giro, too.

"It's a unique situation for me, having won the Tour and Vuelta and now having the opportunity to go to the Giro and attempt to win a third consecutive grand tour," Froome said Wednesday, when the route of Giro edition #101 was unveiled in Milan.

Froome to target Giro-Tour double with Jerusalem start
Chris Froome will contest the Giro d'Italia starting in May in a bid to become only the third rider to simultaneously hold all three grand tour crowns.

"It's really exciting to be able to take on a new challenge, to do something that perhaps people wouldn't expect and to mix it up. It's a whole new motivation for me to see if I can pull off something special next year."

A new challenge. To do something that people wouldn't expect. A new motivation. Something special.

I think Monsieur Froome was getting a little bored with the ease with which he was winning Le Tour.

This past July, pundits argued long and hard that he was not his previous indomitable self because he did not attack, nor did he win a race in the lead-up to the Tour, and the margins until the final time trial in Marseille were as close as they've ever been.

First, he did not need to attack; the others weren't good enough to distance him by any significant margin. Second, he was attempting to be stronger in the Vuelta than he was in 2016 when he finished runner-up to Quintana, which he was. Third, after nailing the Tour-Vuelta double, he revealed that even before the Tour began, he hedged his bets on being vastly superior in the Marseille TT, which, relative to other contenders, he was.

In other words, there's little to no evidence that supports any deterioration in the Kenyan-born Brit's capacity to repeat what he accomplished in the summers of 2013, '15, '16 and '17.

As much as you may hate to see or hear about it, with Froome, Team Sky has found a formula to winning a Grand Tour. As of September 10 this year, they now have a formula for winning two in a season. It's time to test its efficacy with a Giro-Tour double.

That Contador and Quintana have gone before and failed does not bother him. On the contrary, it motivates him.

Deep down, he probably thinks he's better than them. And unlike the theory that his powers are on the wane, there's evidence aplenty to support that.

Contador was often called the best Grand Tour rider of his generation. If Froome pulls this off, he's on his way to being the best Grand Tour rider of all.