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Giro d'Italia

Hansen begins epic ride in bid to write name in record books

Few riders have completed all three grand tours in a single season. Adam Hansen looks to do it for the fourth time this year.

SYDNEY (VN) — There are few men on the planet tougher than Australia’s Adam Hansen (Lotto-Soudal). Before jockeying for one of the sport’s most elusive records, this 33-year-old mountain biker-turned-road cyclist had already conquered one of the world’s most grueling off-road bike challenges – not once, but twice.

The two-time Crocodile Trophy winner (2004-05) is now on the verge of tying Spaniard Marino Lejarreta’s record of four seasons of completing all three grand tours (Giro d’Italia, Tour de France, and Vuelta a España) in the same year. In fact, only 32 riders have finished all three grand tours in a single year even once. Hansen joins Lejarreta’s compatriot’s Bernardo Ruiz – who holds the record for consecutive grand tours that Hansen is trying to beat this season – with three years so far.

“I read one study that showed that cyclists who have completed a single Grand Tour lived an extra five years than the average person, so at this rate I will never die,” said an amused Hansen.

“I will continue till I can. I like this type of race program and I will just see where it brings me. “

The Queenslander makes no secret of his love of the grand tours, and claims it’s a lot easier than it looks.

“Aside from the Australian summer series in January, my race program doesn’t kick in until the Tour of Turkey prior to the Giro,” said Hansen. “From there I have three, three-week blocks of racing where I don’t have to worry about cooking, cleaning and laundry.

“I quite like being on tour.”

In total, Hansen has completed 14 of the 17 grand tours he has started – including 10 straight dating back to the 2011 Vuelta.

Hansen’s durability has not gone overlooked. Even retired pro cyclist and former Hour Record holder Jens Voigt has taken notice.

After a Twitter exchange involving VeloNews contributor and Eurosport columnist Aaron S. Lee, who reminded the Twittersphere during last year’s Tour de France of a comparison he had made between Hansen and Voigt during the Tour Down Under six months earlier, Voigt was quick to respond via Twitter.

The affection is mutual.

“Jens said it was going to be hard to keep going as long as he has,” said Hansen, who vowed to continue his pro career as long as Voigt’s. “Then I said ‘I am glad you are retiring because I always said I will retire the same age as you do and that was about three years ago and you’re still going. You’re making it difficult for me.’”

When 2013 stage winner Hansen, who has his own cycling apparel brand and is the mastermind behind his team’s logistics program that coordinates travel, accommodation, and training information, was asked if he would consider a “re-do” should he not make the Vuelta’s finish in September to tie the record, Hansen did not hesitate.

“Without a doubt, I try again,” he said emphatically. “I actually thought that last year I was going to crash out, after all it has to happen. They say a professional breaks a bone every two years.

“I broke my sternum in 2013 during the Giro but I rode through that. Last year I didn’t know that I broke two bones in my arm after a crash at Paris-Nice, so I hope I have clear sailing between now and 2016 when I can possibly break the record.”

But when it comes to “Hanseeno” believers, Mr. “Shut Up Legs” is at the top of the list.

“He’s just a great guy,” said Voigt. “If you think I am a hard man, he is twice as hard.

“In the last three years he has started and finished all three grand tours.

“He’s a brilliant rider and he is a very smart man with an amazing sense of humor. I actually do love him and I would feel honored if people think he’s the next ‘Jensie,’ even if he is most probably better.”

Aaron S. Lee is a cycling and triathlon columnist for Eurosport and a guest contributor to VeloNews.