By Tom Cary
It was no great secret that he was planning to ride the Vuelta a Espana after winning his fourth Tour de France title but Chris Froome has now confirmed beyond all doubt he will seek to make history at the three-week race beginning on August 19.
Froome, who has been runner-up three times at the Vuelta, had previously said he wanted to see how he recovered from the Tour "and how I back up in training going into the Vuelta, if that remains the plan".
However, speaking to Sky Sports after travelling to the UK for a visit to his team's paymasters, the 32-year-old said that he would "certainly" be going for his second grand tour of the season where he will attempt to become Britain's first winner of the race.
"The Vuelta is a race I love," said Froome. "It's a vicious race but it's three weeks that I enjoy. I've come second three times now and I'd love to win the Vuelta. To win the Tour and the Vuelta in one year would be absolutely incredible. I've got that opportunity now and I'm certainly going to go for it."
Victory would make Froome - who trained to peak late in the Tour, partly with the Vuelta in mind - not only the first Briton to win Spain's national tour but only the third rider in history to manage the Tour-Vuelta double after Jacques Anquetil in 1963 and Bernard Hinault in 1978.
Both of those men did it when the race was in April, though, rather than having just ridden the Tour de France.
The official Vuelta start list has yet to be announced but Froome's major challenge for the red jersey is likely to come in the form of some of the riders he has just beaten at the Tour, including Romain Bardet (AG2R), Fabio Aru (Astana), Rigoberto Uran (Cannondale-Drapac) and three-time champion Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo), who finished 10th in France but looked surprisingly sprightly in the final week.
Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb), defending champion Nairo Quintana (Movistar) and the injured Alejandro Valverde (also Movistar) won't be racing, but Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) and Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha-Alpecin) are also believed to be targeting the Vuelta having ridden the Giro d'Italia in May.
Aside from Froome, British interest will be piqued by the presence of both Yates twins, Simon and Adam, on the start line in Nimes.
The Bury-born Orica-Scott pair have not ridden in the same grand tour since the 2015 Tour de France.
Simon Yates finished the Tour in seventh overall, winning the white jersey for best young rider 12 months after his brother had won it in finishing fourth. Orica-Scott are planning a three-pronged attack, with Esteban Chaves also due to ride.