Fresh off a top 10 finish,ninth overall, at the Presidential Tour of Turkey, Australian Adam Hansen (Lotto-Belisol) now sets his sights on continuing an impressive eighth-straight Grand Tour appearance when he lines up for the start of the 2014 Giro d'Italia in Belfast on Friday, May 9.
Finishing just 58 seconds behind race winner Adam Yates (Orica-GreenEdge), the 32-year-old Queensland native with burgeoning Jens Voigt-like cult status was working with a weakened Lotto squad that included both André Greipel and a Greg Henderson returning from injury and not at full strength.
"I am very happy with my overall standings in Turkey," Hansen told Cyclingnews. "A top 10 finish was the goal. I could have perhaps done better, but the attacks on stage six [into Selcuk] took a lot out of me."
Now, barring misfortune, the 'ironman' of professional cycling will attempt to complete the Grand Tour triple, which includes the Giro, the Tour de France in July and the Vuelta a España in August-September, for the third straight year and his eighth Grand Tour in a row dating back to the Vuelta in 2011.
"I just love it," said Hansen on why he continues his current Grand Tour streak. "I think the first year [my teammates] thought I was crazy. [The] second year they just thought I'm trying to do it again and this year they are just accepting it's normal for me now."
What's normal for the mountain-biker-turned roadie is questionable, as Hansen has a history of indulging in extremely challenging tests of endurance, including capturing two Crocodile Trophy wins – the oldest, and once considered the hardest, mountain bike stage-race in the world.
"I don't think it is as much completing each Grand Tour as it is staying healthy and remaining unscathed," he said.
But just how long does Hansen plan on continuing the streak?
"I would like to do it as long as I can," said Hansen, who won the 177-kilometre mountainous stage seven from San Salvo to Pescara at last year's Giro. "As long as I don't crash out or get sick – at least five more years."
Of the three Grand Tours, Hansen says each has its own unique flavour – and Hansen his own unique role per race.
"Giro has very long climbs with very long stages and is very tiring, I have a free card and going for a stage," he said.
"The Tour is business, it is the fastest with everyone on form, for me it's all about working for André and Jurgen Van den Broeck. The Vuelta has some very steep climbs with a broad range of riders' form and can also be tricky.
"The Giro is great because it is just so passionate because it is about fans that are really into cycling rather than just being at a race."