MADRID (VN) — Adam Hansen just keeps on trucking. The 35-year-old discretely completed another grand tour last weekend in Madrid, adding one more to his already historic run. Sunday’s finale at the Vuelta a España marked his 16th consecutive complete grand tour.
Fresh off signing a two-year contract extension with Lotto – Soudal, the Australian said he vows to keep the streak alive for at least one more season.
“Next year I will do it again. We’ll see how far I will go,” Hansen said. “I have two more years with Lotto. It’s like a marriage — why break up when it’s working?”
Indeed, it is working very well. Hansen is cycling’s Mr. Consistency and provides Lotto extra horsepower on its lead-out train for André Greipel as well as a constant presence across the racing calendar.
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In addition to his streak, Hansen boasts incredible grand tour consistency throughout his professional career. With 23 career grand tour starts dating back to the 2007 Giro d’Italia, he’s completed all but three. He pulled out of that first grand tour and did the same at the Giro and Tour in 2010.
Since the 2011 Vuelta, he’s completed 16 consecutive grand tours. If stacked up back-to-back, that would be equivalent to racing your bike 336 days in a row, more than 11 months of continuous bike racing.
When asked if he somehow feels trapped or obligated to keep racing all three grand tours every year, Hansen countered it is the joy of craft and racing that propels forward.
“I don’t feel trapped by it. I choose to do it. I like racing in grand tours,” Hansen said. “I enjoy it. I enjoy the racing program and helping out the team.”
Lotto – Soudal did not win a stage during the Vuelta (Hansen took one stage at the 2013 Giro and another at the 2014 Vuelta during his streak), but it wasn’t for a lack of trying. Hansen admitted the hilly demands of the Vuelta made it difficult for him to try to get into the right kind of breakaway to have a chance of winning a stage.
“The Vuelta is getting harder and harder every year, and you never know who is going to win. It is not crystal clear, like in the Tour de France. Here it is a bit more unpredictable, and that makes it more exciting for the fans,” Hansen said of racing the Spanish grand tour. “The Tour is very important, maybe the Vuelta is a bit more relaxed. People take more chances here. At the Tour, you can say: ‘he’s going to win; he’ll get second, so I will just try to hang on to finish third.’ Whereas at the Vuelta, the racing is a bit more spontaneous.”
After so many grand tours, Hansen has a unique perspective on what makes each race unique. For the Vuelta, Hansen described it as the most relaxed, yet more unpredictable of the three major tours.
“It is less stressful, easier on the riders. The stages are shorter, and we can sleep in. All that combined, it makes it a nicer race,” he said. “It is easier to finish, but I think the Vuelta is harder to win. You have to be a pure climber to win. I am not going to say it is an easier race, but it is easier to finish. Sometimes at the Vuelta, we can be a little more relaxed during the racing. At the Tour, you have to switched on all the time, or there will be a crash, guys touching wheels. The stress is huge.”
Hansen also has some interesting views on rider safety, especially in light of some high-profile crashes during this Vuelta. The first involved GC contender Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL – Jumbo), who struck an unmarked metal post, and another with Alberto Contador (Tinkoff), who crashed after bumping shoulders while in the mix with the sprinters.
Here’s Hansen on safety: “My personal thought is there should be barriers with 3km to go, and that would eliminate a lot of the crashes. At the Giro, with some of those technical laps, they took the time early, and the GC guys stepped out of the way, and you saw the sprinters and lead-out trains did their thing. Everyone was happy. No one was hurt. There were no crashes. And it’s a nice way to do it. Why do you want to increase the chances of crashes in the race?”
Hansen on GC riders getting in the way of sprinters: “Look at the Contador crash: was he going for the win? No. Was he getting in the way of the sprinters? Yes. He did touch a sprinter, and the difference is, if you’re a climber and you touch a sprinter in a sprint, you’re going down. The sprinter isn’t going down. They’re [sprinters] professionals at this, they’re experienced. They’re used to bumping shoulders in the last 3km. We’ve got GC guys up there trying to be in the mix and when they get caught in the crashes, they complain. You’re asking for trouble.”
Hansen on taking the time early, perhaps at 3km to go: “I also believe they should take the time early on. I understand about losing time, so maybe the rule should be changed. Racing has changed, so maybe the rules should change with it. It would just be easier and safer.”
Hansen on if there is a sense that race organizers don’t do all they can for rider safety: “We do [get that sense]. Sometimes we’ll see these tricky finals, and we know there will be a crash. Sometimes it seems that way. The CPA is trying to do a lot with this. We’re working on making things safer.”