Adam Hansen (Lotto-Soudal) defended his role in leading a controversial rider protest Friday despite his feeling that he was later abandoned by his some of his professional colleagues at the Giro d’Italia.
Hansen later became a lightning rod of criticism when organizers reluctantly shortened the transitional stage, especially after several riders and teams later claimed they were ready to race the full distance Friday despite rain.
“I was thrown under the bus a little,” Hansen told Eurosport ahead of Saturday’s stage 20. “And when it came out in the media that it wasn’t so good, a lot of the riders stood back and said ‘woah, I wasn’t part of it.’ It was not nice from some riders to do that, and some riders went to the media saying they were ready to race, but at the end of the day all the riders were there and they supported the decision.”
Hansen, set to retire Sunday following a nearly two-decade career on the road, was front and center when riders balked at racing the full 260km distance of Friday’s transition stage in rain and cold. Riders were brewing a revolt overnight, and refused to toe up to the line.
On Friday morning, riders hid out under a tent while Hansen became the point-man within the peloton to negotiate with race organizers and the race jury to alter the stage. After some tense talks, Hansen helped hatch a compromise to shorten the stage by about 100km.
The story later blew up in the media and on social media, with Giro boss Mauro Vegni heavily criticizing what he called the riders’ lack of professionalism. The issue proved decisive, and revealed again how it’s difficult to reach consensus within a peloton pulled by many conflicting interests.
Hansen, riding in his 29th and final grand tour, defended his role as mediator in what was a tense situation.
“There was a bit of miscommunication with how that was dealt with. When I came to the start line, all the riders were underneath the tent just before the start,” he said Saturday. “So I was called in and asked to represent the riders. I know a lot of the attacks [afterwards] came on me, but it was not actually me speaking, it was the voice of the riders.
“No one was at the start line. So all the riders agreed to it,” he said. “I’m like, if you guys wanted to race, be at the start line. But no one was there. Everyone was under the tent requesting we reduce the stage. When times are tough they’re all there, supporting me to do this. I do it for them and at the end, when things look a little bit bad, they turn around.”