Come rain or shine, professional bike racers are expected to perform in almost all conditions and Lotto-Soudal‘s Adam Hansen has seen his fair share of poor weather in recent years.

Having completed every Grand Tour since the 2011 Vuelta a España, Hansen has raced in driving rain, icy cold winds, snow and, sometimes, blazing sunshine.

And it’s the days of poor weather that stick in the Australian’s mind as being his toughest days on the bike, with the challenges brought by cold weather making it so tough to stay competitive.

Hansen remembers back to stage 14 of the Vuelta in 2013 when rain lashed the peloton the whole day in Andorra. While going uphill in such conditions is not such a problem, when the roads point downwards it all gets a little tricky.

“You have these descents where you ride for 30 minutes without pedalling, so your heart rate drops and your body core [temperature] drops,” he says. Then you start shaking and it’s hard to control the bike, which is a pretty freaky feeling.”

Riders on the Stelvio at the 2014 Giro d'Italia (Sunada)

Riders on the Stelvio at the 2014 Giro d’Italia (Sunada)

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He adds: “[When you finish] you go onto the bus and you can’t take your shoes off because your hands are numb…the soigneurs have to take your clothes off. You can’t even unzip your jersey because you have no feeling.

“On the stage, when your hands are so numb you have no control, so you can’t physically get any food out of your pockets. Then, when you don’t eat your calories drop, your energy levels drop and your body core drops – it’s an escalating effect.”