(Reuters) - Chris Froome will not defend his Giro d’Italia title this year, choosing to focus on winning a record-equalling fifth Tour de France crown instead, Team Sky announced on Tuesday.
Briton Froome won his third straight Grand Tour title with victory at the Giro last May before the champion finished third at the Tour, which was won by team mate Geraint Thomas.
“It’s been a hard decision to figure out which Grand Tours to focus on, especially having won the Giro last year... but for 2019, my number one objective is going to be the Tour de France,” Froome said in a statement.
“It was definitely a difficult decision not to go back to the Giro and defend the Maglia Rosa. I’ve got amazing memories from last year, but I think, with the Tour as my main objective, it’s probably better that I skip the Giro.”
Thomas confirmed he will also focus on the July 6-28 Tour this year, as well as the time trial World Championships which will be held in Yorkshire.
“The main goal for me will be to go back to the Tour for the best result I can. Maybe if I hadn’t have won the Tour in 2018 I might have looked at a Giro/Vuelta program,” Thomas said.
Team Sky’s Egan Bernal will lead his first Grand Tour at the Giro d’Italia which begins on May 11.
The British-based outfit’s owner and sponsor, broadcaster Sky, confirmed last month that it will end involvement in professional cycling after the 2019 season.
Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; editing by Sudipto Ganguly