(Reuters) - Tour de France champion Chris Froome has confirmed he will take on a “vicious” Vuelta a Espana next month aiming to complete one of cycling’s toughest doubles.
Only two riders — Jacques Anquetil and Bernard Hinault — have won the Tour de France and Vuelta in the same year, although they achieved it in 1963 and 1978 when the Spanish race was held in April.
Team Sky’s Froome, who won a fourth Tour de France last weekend, will face tough competition as he tries to win the race for the first time having finished second on three occasions, most recently last year when beaten by Nairo Quintana.
Frenchman Romain Bardet (AG2R-La Mondiale), Italy’s Fabio Aru (Astana) and Spain’s Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo) are also expected to be on the start line for the opening time trial being held in the French city of Nimes on Aug. 19.
“I’ve got the opportunity and I’m certainly going to go for it,” Froome said on Team Sky’s website (www.teamsky.com)
“The Vuelta is a race I love — it’s vicious but it’s three weeks that I enjoy. I’ve come second three times now and I’d love to win. To win both the Tour and the Vuelta in one year would be absolutely incredible.”
Team principal Dave Brailsford said Froome has enough time to recover from the Tour to challenge for victory in Spain.
“There’s no reason why (he can’t win it),” Brailsford said. “We’ve got four weeks to the start of the Vuelta. We’ve got a couple of races in between but we’ll dust ourselves down a little bit and go and do it all over again!”
On paper, this year’s Vuelta looks tougher than the Tour de France with nine summit finishes including, on the penultimate stage, the formidable Alto de l’Angliru — a 12.2km climb averaging 10.2 percent and going up to 23.5 in places.
The race finishes in Madrid on Sept. 10.
Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Ed Osmond