In a nod to the cancelation of the Australian international cycling calendar, we are turning our gaze Down Under for a week of feature stories, interviews, historical analysis, and other content to celebrate Australian cycling as part of Aussie Week.
Renowned for his grand tour feats and restless curiosity, Hansen is far from slipping into a lazy life after cycling. The 39-year-old is currently busy making ready for his new life as an Ironman triathlete, setting up a training environment at his home in the eastern Czech Republic.
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“I’m still taking some time off and slowly building a good environment for me to progress faster long term,” Hansen told VeloNews.
Having molded his own cycling shoes, engineered motorized boa lacing systems, and created 3D-printed face masks for health workers during his time as a pro cyclist, Cairns-born Hansen is off the bike, but remains busy flexing his mechanical muscles in the home workshop instead.
“I am doing a lot of things at the moment,” he said. “I’m building my own bike for triathlon, which is taking some time. So that’s pretty exciting for me at the moment. In the meanwhile, I will be using a Ridley the team gave me as a gift.”
“I am also working on a swimming pool that works like a treadmill, but really small – just enough for freestyle,” he continued. “I have always loved swimming and I admit I have not been swimming because the pools are closed, but I am building my own pool at the moment and that is coming along nicely.”
After 17 years in the pro peloton, Hansen is enjoying a break from the bike except for the occasional ride through the deep European snow on his fat tires. In the meantime, he’s making the most of his extra time to pin down his running form – and it’s no surprise to hear that he’s harnessing tech to tune up his technique.
“I love running and I am using a LEOMO [motion sensing technology also used for bike and fit] to really get my running perfected and I am really enjoying the science of this. It’s super interesting,” he said. “Cycling is actually my least favorite of the disciplines right now.”
Hansen’s endless invention and ingenuity is bubbling as strong as ever as he enjoys his first winter free of the pressure to build base miles on the bike. He explained that the rigidity of life in the WorldTour and its requirement to use sponsor equipment and on-brand technology is something he certainly doesn’t miss as he becomes an independent athlete.
“Not having someone over my shoulder telling me what not to do or what I can not do has been a big change since retirement,” he said. “At first, I thought it was great to sign for a team that has an all-inclusive package. Sponsors, free travel … But on the other side, I am really free where if I do not want a sponsor from a typical brand I don’t have to.”
Hansen had told VeloNews during his 29th and final grand tour at the Giro d’Italia last October that he was more than ready to retire. He indicated again last week that though he misses his teammates and the camaraderie of racing, he has no regrets about hanging up his wheels. And despite the COVID crises and foul weather of last autumn’s Giro, he couldn’t have asked for a better send-off.
“The Giro was the perfect way to retire,” he said. “I would not have had it any other way. I love the Giro. Such a beautiful race.”
Hansen is hoping to line up for the first race of the season at Ironman Taiwan in March. Having scored an impressive time of 9:05:54 to take 38th place in his Ironman debut in Florida 2019, the Aussie’s life as a triathlete has a lot of promise. However, for now, he seems just as happy tinkering in the workshop as he would be in the elbows of the WorldTour peloton or fighting the slow burn of the long-distance triathlon.