London: British cyclist Chris Froome will focus on becoming only the fifth rider to win five Tour de France crowns this year and forego defending his Giro d’Italia title Team Sky announced on Tuesday.
The 33-year-old Kenyan-born cyclist will aim to dethrone his Team Sky teammate Geraint Thomas, who will also target the sport’s showpiece event.
If successful Froome would join Spaniard Miguel Indurain, French duo Jacques Anquetil and Bernard Hinault — whose overall victory in 1985 is the last time a Frenchman won — and Belgium’s Eddie Merckx as five-time winners.
American Lance Armstrong finished first seven times, but was stripped of his victories for doping.
The highly regarded 21-year-old Colombian Egan Bernal will lead Team Sky’s challenge for the Giro and along with Froome and Thomas hope to deliver a fairytale end to British media company Sky’s nine-year backing.
Froome, who in 2017 achieved the Tour and Vuelta double, said age had been a factor in what had been a “difficult decision”.
“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,” the 33-year-old said in a team statement.
“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.”