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Froome and Thomas to share Tour de France leadership duties

Joe Robinson
2 Jan 2019

Both riders will fight for yellow in July and Bernal leads Giro d'Italia charge

Geraint Thomas and Chris Froome will both target the Tour de France this summer in Team Sky's final year in the peloton. While the British duo will target yellow, young Colombian talent Egan Bernal will be handed the opportunity to lead the team at the Giro d'Italia.

In an announcement yesterday, Team Sky confirmed that it would be taking both Froome and defending champion Thomas to the Tour as co-leaders on the start line in Brussels on 6th July.

Froome will head to France looking to become the joint-most successful rider ever at the Tour as he races for a fifth title, overlooking the defence of his Giro title, while Thomas will also return to pin on the number one as defending champion.

The duo will share leadership duties although it is likely that Froome will be afforded more support in the mountains given the importance of the task at hand. The 33-year-old admitted that while it was a 'difficult decision' to skip the Giro he believes the importance of winning a fifth Tour supersedes any other targets.

'For 2019, my number one objective is going to be the Tour de France,' Froome explained. 'It was definitely a difficult decision not to go back to the Giro d’Italia and defend the maglia rosa.

'I’ve got some amazing memories from last year, but I think, with the Tour de France as my main objective, it’s probably better that I skip the Giro d’Italia in 2019.

'I’m getting to the point in my career now where I’m starting to think about what kind of legacy I want to leave behind and if I am able to win the Tour de France for a fifth time and join that very elite group of bike riders - only four other people have ever done that - it would just be incredible.'

Thomas will return as defending champion in what seems an act of respect towards the jersey rather than a statement of intent in winning a second Tour title. Instead, the Welshman will keep one eye on the individual time trial World Championships in September which take place on home soil.

'The main goal for me will be to go back to the Tour de France for the best result I can,' Thomas said. 'Maybe if I hadn’t have won the Tour in 2018 I might have looked at a Giro/Vuelta programme but, having won the Tour, I’ll have the number one on my back and it would be sad not to go back and not to go back at 100% as well.

'The year will be geared around that, but I’m also looking forward to a slightly different programme as well, and obviously, after the Tour, the Worlds in Yorkshire will be massive.

'I think the time trial will be my best chance of getting something out of it. It will be a good goal to have for the end of the year. I certainly want to be there because the support in the UK and in Yorkshire especially is just unbelievable at the moment.

'They’re going to be a massive Worlds and it will be great to be a part of that.'

Thomas was rumoured to be heading to the Giro but instead that task will be handed to 21-year-old Bernal, who was one of 2018's breakthrough riders.

The young rider will tailor his season around the Italian Grand Tour after starting his season at the Tour of Colombia. 

The much-touted talent experienced a spectacular debut season in the WorldTour riding as a vital component in Thomas's Tour victory. As a reward, he will now be given the opportunity to race for his own ambitions in a country that Bernal holds close to his heart.

'The Giro is a race that I really, really like. I lived in Italy for three years, so I have a lot of friends there and I really like the Italian fans. I know the roads, I really like the Giro, and I want to do a good race there,' said Bernal.

'I’m really excited to do the Tour Colombia. It will be the first race with Froomey there so we want to do it well! It’s at home and I want to do a good race for the fans, for my family, and for Colombia. It’s incredible how the fans support us and it’s right at home. It will be good.'