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Can Sky Do the Tour/Giro Double Next Season?

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While Bradley Wiggins sits at home convalescing after his recent road accident, and no doubt putting in the hours on the turbo trainer despite his broken rib and dislocated finger, the management at Team Sky are already turning their attention away from their recent staff clear-out and towards the 2013 season.

It is at this time of year that new signings hook up with their new teams for the first time as riders return from their holidays to the first of the off-season get-togethers. These are less training camps and more an opportunity for riders to be measured for kit and bikes and to meet up with old and new colleagues. Plus, in the case of Astana, to hold a fancy dress party in honour of new leader Vincenzo Nibali's birthday.

Nonetheless, these are the meetings where plans for the coming season are put into place, and training plans drawn up to deliver those goals over the next 12 months. So it is now that Sky supremo Dave Brailsford will be deciding just which of his riders are likely to be targeting which races. All indications so far suggest that the team will send defending Tour de France champion Bradley Wiggins to the Giro d'Italia, and hand leadership of the Tour team to this season's runner-up, Chris Froome.

With a more mountainous route in France next year, and Alberto Contador set to return to the race, this makes sense on the face of things - particularly as the addition of more time trialling kilometres to the Giro route opens up the possibility of Wiggins becoming the first British winner of that Grand Tour too. The potential problem for Sky, however, is how to successfully support two tilts at Grand Tour victory in such quick succession.

The last team to win two Grand Tours in a season were Italian giants Liquigas, who took the Giro d'Italia with Ivan Basso and the Vuelta a Espana with Vincenzo Nibali in 2010, while Astana achieved the same double with Alberto Contador back in 2008. But the Italian and Spanish races are at opposite ends of the season, and a Giro/Tour double (races separated by just a month) will be tougher.

Froome, however, is confident, as he tells us in an exclusive interview in this week's edition of Cycling News HD: ""We do have a lot of strength in numbers," he says, "so we'll definitely be able to do a good job at it. Maybe one team would have to be stronger than the other as to have two complete line-ups would mean having 18 riders, if they had different riders on each team. It's a lot to ask, but I wouldn't say it's impossible."

For the sport's biggest race, Froome will want Sky's strongest team to support him, especially if he is to hold off riders such as Contador and Andy Schleck in the mountains piled into the final Alpine week of next season's Tour. He will need the men who drilled the peloton up the French mountains this season in support of Wiggins, and perhaps the likes of Colombian climbers Sergio Henao and Rigoberto Uran. With no Mark Cavendish to support, Froome could be sent to Corsica for the grand depart with a team packed with climbers.

Should he get that support, though, where would that leave Wiggins? The Tour champion is the darling of British cycling, and to leave him to attempt to write further history for the sport in this country effectively alone on the roads of Italy is unthinkable. Indeed, Wiggins is more likely to need team support in the Giro mountains than Froome in the Tour. The Kenyan-born Brit is a more explosive rider, who might have less need of a team to set a high tempo due to his better ability to match the explosive attacks of Contador and Schleck.

These issues are all for Brailsford to address, but what is certain is that no stone will be left unturned. Sky's promise to deliver a clean British Tour de France winner within five years was delivered in three, with a British road world champion thrown in for good measure. A Giro/Tour double for the squad next year would be a huge undertaking, but given all they have achieved so far it would take a brave person to rule it out.

• The full interview with Chris Froome appears in issue 29 of Cycling News HD, out now, and is just one example of what you can find inside. Elsewhere in the issue we continue our review of the year with the season's biggest race, the Tour de France, with in-depth analysis and stunning photography of the key moments over the three weeks. Peter Sagan, who dominated the green jersey competition, talks exclusively about his best season to date and gives us an insight into his famous celebrations.
We also have the second of our guest columns with Sean Kelly. The seven-time Paris-Nice winner thinks the 2012 route may have been a little one-sided: "For Bradley Wiggins this year's Tour route had a good balance, but for the race itself I don't think it was the best choice." Kelly's first column on the Giro d'Italia was featured in Issue 28.
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With over 50 pages packed with new and original content every Wednesday, alongside all the latest reports and results, Cycling News HD is the best way to enjoy a roadside seat at all the season's biggest and best races.

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