Tour de France

Grand tour record holder Hansen almost skipped Tour de France

Adam Hansen has raced 18 straight grand tours, but his inclusion in the current Tour de France was originally in doubt.

LONGWY, France (VN) — Adam Hansen (Lotto-Soudal) had initially made plans for July that did not include racing the Tour de France, his 18th consecutive grand tour.

The Australian established the record for grand tours raced in a row in 2015 when he topped Spaniard Bernardo Ruiz’s record of 12 set in 1958. A crash in the spring, however, put everything in doubt.

“I didn’t know what was happening,” the 36-year-old Hansen said of his Tour selection after having crashed and injured his hand in the Giro d’Italia.

[related title=”More Tour de France news” align=”left” tag=”Tour-de-France”]

“I hadn’t had a July off in ages. I thought it’d be nice to spend some time at home. I was making plans, I like to be prepared.

“Some said I was already in the team, but until you get that phone call, you are never sure. It came five days before. I was going to stop riding my bike. I didn’t have any races until the Tour of Poland [from July 29-Aug. 4].”

Hansen smiled and stepped off the red Lotto-Soudal team bus. He is not a people person, but he obliges because talking to the media and greeting fans is part of his job.

The injury he suffered in the stage 14 Giro crash, a hand contusion that was originally thought to be a fracture, nearly forced him to miss his first Tour de France since 2011. The 36-year-old planned on going to his home in the United Arab Emirates to “escape it all” before building back up for the Tour of Poland and the Vuelta a España.

“It was more like the problem escalated between the Giro and the Tour. It was a bit undiagnosed at the start, then I had to go back to Belgium and get everything checked,” Hansen said.

“The Tour was in question. I thought the injury might destroy the grand tour streak. But in the end, I got the OK from the team and was able to continue riding.

“It was a struggle, it was not easy and training was difficult. The last weeks though were really good.”

Hansen warned not to take anything for granted in his grand tour streak. He only discovered five days prior to the 2017 Tour departure that he would be on Lotto’s nine-man team.

He has now raced around 60,000 grand tour kilometers since the streak started at the 2011 Vuelta a España.

At this Tour, Hansen is leading the sprints for André Greipel and setting up Thomas De Gendt. He was part of an escape group during Monday’s stage 3 through the sunny countryside from Verviers, Belgium, through Luxembourg, and into Longwy, France.

“Nothing is for granted. That is the thing you have to make the selection, it’s difficult. You have to be 100 percent to race a grand tour. You also have to stay out to of trouble, don’t crash, and if you do, you have to pull though it if you do crash,” Hansen said.

“So in this instance, it’s not so easy. You have to love it.

“You have to love it. You have to survive the circus.”