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"Today looked like a breakaway stage. I was motivated this morning, and I shaved my head to be ready for it," Hansen says

Photo: RCS Sport






10.05.2013 @ 20:19 Posted by Simon Knudstrup

On a dramatic day where most attention was focused on a struggling Bradley Wiggins, Adam Hansen (Lotto-Belisol) deserved to be in the spotlight as the Australian did a fantastic job to hold off the peloton and take the biggest win of his career in the seventh stage of the Giro d'Italia. Perfect for a breakaway the stage had long been marked out by the Australian and in the morning he turned up for breakfast with a shaved head to show that he was ready to go for the win.


Last year the Lotto-Belisol team lined up at the start of the Giro d'Italia with a team of opportunists and not much was expected from the Belgian team. They exceeded expectations as the team's Dane Lars Bak brought home a win in Sestri Levante in solo fashion.


This year the team went to Italy with similar ambitions and once again the squad had been mostly overlooked in the build-up to the race. However, they once again managed to get into the spotlight as Adam Hansen won today's dramatic seventh stage.


The day was an obvious one for a breakaway and so most teams had attacks on the agenda. Hansen showed his strength early on and managed to join the move that finally got clear. Having dropped most of his companions he was left with Emanuele Sella (Androni) in the end and he managed to drop the noted climber on one of the numerous steep ascents in the final part of the race.


The win came on a day where Hansen had showed his intentions to his teammates already when he turned up for breakfast.


"Today looked like a breakaway stage," he said. "I was motivated this morning, and I shaved my head to be ready for it. Getting into the breakaway is one of the hardest things in cycling. When we led by 7 minutes I thought there was a chance. When our lead came down, I thought there was no chance. Sella was the strongest rider on the climbs. I didn’t think he would expect a rider like me to ride on the climbs. I tried to break him mentally. I was surprised he cracked."


"The whole time I didn’t believe it. I thought the bunch would come back. When I heard my lead was still 2 minutes 30 seconds with 6km to go, I thought:  it’s real, this time I’m bringing it home."


Last year Hansen became famous for finishing all three grand tours and he plans to do the same this year. However, he has no intentions of making stage wins in each of the three-weeks races a goal.


"If I now want to win a stage in every Grand Tour? No, that can't be a goal. In the Giro there are opportunities for riders like me to try this, but in the Tour we have other goals with André Greipel and Jurgen Van den Broeck. Tonight we'll definitely have a drink!"


Hansen is Australian but he actually has a strong Italian connection which he was keen to point out to the reporters from the home country.


“I can’t speak Italian but I come from an Italian background," he said. "My grandparents migrated to Australia from Fossano. They settled in North Queensland, where my mother was born, into a sugar cane family, although they were related to the Italian Ambassador in Australia. I have dual passports, Italian and Australian.”


Besides his Italian background he is also an intellectual and like many other cyclists he came into the sport through triathlon. Curiously enough, his cycling career started as an attempt to improve his weakness in the versatile sport.


"At school I studied computer programming," he said. "I worked as a programmer for 4 years. The last company I worked for paid me to go to university, then after one semester I was asked to lecture.  I started cycling through triathlon. I started as a runner. As a triathlete, swimming and running were my best disciplines, so to improve my cycling I spent a year in Austria cycling.  I loved it so much, I never turned back."


Sports director Bart Leysen had sensed Hansen's desire already from the very beginning of the day.


"How happy a winning sports director can be?" he said. "This morning I had seen he had shaved his hair. I was wise enough not to say anything, but when I did that in my time, it was because I wanted to be good. He had asked if he could have a go and had said he would be ‘in the breakaway or in the grupetto'."


"In the beginning of the stage the race was hard, with an average speed of 45 kilometers in the first hour. Vini Fantini had no one in the escape and they reduced the gap to two minutes with 45 kilometers to go. Then we decided he should attack, because he was very strong. Also when only Sella was with him he was the best. Because of the rain it was difficult for the chasers to take back time downhill and also uphill he didn't lose anything. To me this stage win is as good as that of Lars Bak last year."


Hansen will probably take it a little easier in tomorrow's time trial where the team turns its attention to GC captain Francis De Greef who hopes to limit his losses in the individual discipline.


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