Try as he might, Adam Hansen can’t seem to please everyone. The Lotto Soudal rider is an integral part of the CPA, the pro riders’ union, and has spent considerable time at the Tour Down Under liaising between the riders and the race organisers to ensure that athlete welfare has been considered in the 40-degree heat that has hit the race.
However, at the end of stage 4 a rider approached Hansen and berated him for allowing the peloton to race in the high temperatures. After the altercation Hansen could be seen discussing the conditions at the Astana team bus, although he ruled out naming the rider in question when speaking to Cyclingnews.
“There were a lot of guys complaining, but there were also a lot of guys not complaining. Just to name some teams, Movistar, UniSA, BMC, even the Mitchelton guys were all saying they didn’t want to cancel the stage. I’m not saying the whole team, but some of the riders I spoke with said ‘no, it’s ok. Sure, it is hard, but it’s ok’,” Hansen told Cyclingnews.
“There was one rider that just went mental on the finale and I wore it and it’s fine. I know he lost it a little but after the finish I went straight to his team bus, put my bike down and confronted him. I always like to speak after the stage. He agreed with me then and said ‘it’s ok, I understand, and I’m sorry, it was charged and in the race, in the moment’.”
Hansen works without salary as part of the CPA and covers his own expenses. He was shocked, to say the least, when a rider called him out at the end of stage, suggesting that he didn’t want to cancel the stage because he wanted to attack.
“I understand all that, but I don’t get paid for this," said the 36-year-old. "It takes so much time. I do it for the riders and I don’t do it for me – I do it for the future riders. I don’t need to do this CPA stuff – it’s for the younger generation. All the other things the CPA does is for the future generations of riders – it’s not for the older generation. It’s annoying and we’ve already done quite a lot for the riders with two stages. Not everyone feels the same as what some people were complaining about. I’m not saying it was easier, I’m just saying it is what it is.
“Sprinters will complain it’s too hilly, climbers will complain a sprint finale is too technical. Guys were complaining today because of the heat and I admit it was super hot and it’s not nice to do. I don’t think anyone enjoyed it, it’s still a bike race and we’re all human, we all have our own rights and we can always just stop. At the end of the day, every rider can make their own choice to stop. There’s that on one side and I don’t agree with that, ‘you shouldn’t push people over their limits’. Well, how do you stay in this sport? You’re always over your limit.”
Hansen has been in constant dialogue with the race organisers this week. Stage 3 was reduced by 26km and today saw the stage start moved forward by an hour in order to avoid the worst of the hot weather. Hansen argued that although the conditions were tough, they were not different to several other races throughout the calendar.
“We already had the race start an hour earlier, it was only 128km, which is the same as yesterday. I think yesterday was around 120km or around that, so it’s the same distance as yesterday but an hour earlier. In some sense then it’s better conditions than it was yesterday," he said.
"It puts me in a difficult situation because, yes, the guys that don’t like it are the ones that complain, and the ones that have no problem are neutral about it. So everyone that came to me to complain, then complains to other people and then they think it’s everyone complaining. Then I do a round and ask a few other teams, but they say it’s ok.
"Some of the Spanish guys were saying if you do a race in Spain in the summer, it’s the same. Sometimes at the Tour it can also be as hot as this, but it is 200km or 240km. You know, if you want to stop you can stop, but not everyone wants to stop.”