Adam Hansen has been an invaluable asset to the marquee sprinters he has helped to many a stage win so it was a different feeling when he himself took to the podium at the Giro d’Italia yesterday.
The Australian celebrated a solo victory at the end of the rain-soaked seventh stage to Pescara in which Bradley Wiggins (Sky) lost time.
Hansen helped deliver teammate Andre Greipel to three Tour de France stage wins last season. Prior to transferring to Lotto Belisol, with the German sprinter, he was an integral part of Mark Cavendish’s sprint train at Highroad.
But yesterday the former national time trial champion, who is 32 today, was riding for himself and had time to savour his maiden Grand Tour stage victory having escaped with the main six-man break early in the piece.
“I’m not such a winner. When I was on the podium today I didn’t like it so much,” a happy Hansen told Cycling Weekly post-race.
“I don’t like to stand in front of all the people and look down on them! I think that’s not part of me so that felt a bit uncomfortable. It’s different.
“For me this is the biggest win, which is nice.”
Hansen had earmarked stages he believed a breakaway could go all the way to the finish and yesterday’s 177km run, which some in the peloton deemed as one of the most challenging of the Giro, was one of them.
“There are not many of these chances,” he said.
“[The sports director] was explaining everything to me – the descents – and I was very lucky. I think I could have done them blindfolded he did a very, very good job.
“I never believed I would win. The whole time I thought for sure the bunch would come back because these things never really happen. And in the last 4K I realised, wow, it’s really going to happen today.”
Greipel is not competing at the Giro and the team has sent a mix of opportunists as well as riders to help Francis De Greef try and improve on his top 20 overall finish from last year.
Hansen rode in a pair of shoes he designed and made himself. See the full story in the next issue of Cycling Weekly magazine, out on Thursday.
Giro d’Italia 2013: Stage reports
Giro d’Italia 2013: Photo galleries
Photos by Graham Watson