Froome ready to ride Giro next year

Left to right, Italian riders Fabio Aru and Vincenzo Nibali and Dutch rider Tom Dumoulin pose for a photo near the trophy during the presentation of the "Giro d'Italia", Tour of Italy, 2018 in Milan, Italy, Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2017. Four-time Tour de France champion Chris Froome says he will ride the Giro d'Italia next year in an attempt to win a third consecutive Grand Tour. (Daniel Dal Zennaro/ANSA via AP)
2017 AP YEAR END PHOTOS - Britain's Chris Froome, wearing the overall leader's yellow jersey, is followed by Italy's Fabio Aru as they climb Croix de Fer pass during the seventeenth stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 183 kilometers (113.7 miles) with a start in La Mure and finish in Serre-Chevalier, France, on July 19, 2017. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

MILAN — Four-time Tour de France champion Chris Froome will ride the Giro d'Italia next year in an attempt to win his third Grand Tour in a row.

After successfully defending his Tour de France title earlier this year, Froome went on to win the Spanish Vuelta for the first time. A victory at the Giro would make him the seventh rider in history to win all three Grand Tours.

The 32-year-old Froome made the unexpected announcement on Wednesday during the presentation of next year's Giro route, with a brief video message.

"I'm looking forward to seeing you at the start line of next year's Giro d'Italia," he said.

The announcement was greeted by surprise and a warm round of applause from the audience, which included past and present cyclists.

"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 in a statement from Team Sky.

"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."

Team Sky said Froome has not competed at the Giro since 2010, adding that the British rider will also try to win the Tour for a record-equaling fifth time next year.

"Froome is a strong rider and his presence makes the race harder and more interesting," said 2017 winner Tom Dumoulin, who would not reveal if he will defend his title.

Next year's Giro will start in Jerusalem and the following two stages will also be in Israel, marking the first time the race has started outside Europe.

Race organizers have said the route will not go through any land considered occupied by the international community. That means the course will circumvent the West Bank and east Jerusalem, territories Israel captured in the 1967 Mideast war and claimed by the Palestinians as parts of a future independent state.

A group of about 15 protesters held Palestinian flags and posters criticizing the Giro outside the building hosting Wednesday's presentation.

Race director Mauro Vegni told The Associated Press: "Everyone has the right to think what they want, they have the right — as long as the protests are peaceful — to express their thoughts."

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