By Susan Westemeyer
Team High Road's Adam Hansen has only one goal in this year's Giro d'Italia – "To survive longer than last year... Two days!"
The Australian continued to Cyclingnews, seriously, "No, I have the same goal, to help the team when I can and be in a break that makes it to the final. If I can do that, I will be a happy chap."
Hansen wasn't a happy chap in the 2007 Giro d'Italia, as his experience was with a different type of break. A crash on an ascent in the second stage crushed two fingers on his right hand. (Read Breaking out of the Giro)
He is not worried that it will mentally affect him this year. "Bad memories, not really," he said, explaining that not the falling, but the landing caused all the problems. "The crash was very slow, less than 15 kilometres per hour, nothing serious at all. But the way I landed it made it rather complicated. That's just part of racing and it's behind me now."
This season the "Crocodile Man" is recovering from yet another crash. During Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne, the beginning of March, he went head-first into a parked car before falling on to the road where he was run over by several other cyclists. He came out of that with facial injuries ("My modelling career is over"), but the more serious injury turned out to be torn ligaments in his right shoulder.
Hansen, who turns 27 years old this coming Sunday, says that the injury is still causing him problems. "I don't have the best flexibility in my right shoulder, although it is getting better with stretching exercises," he explained.
He hopes for good weather in Italy. "In the cold I have problems getting food out of my left pocket. What's worse is that I have the same problems with my right hand [from the Giro crash], also in the cold. However, when it's not cold, everything is perfect!"
After that crash in Belgium, he made an impressive comeback in Hel van Het Mergelland, in which he and team-mate neo-pro Tony Martin capped off a race-long escape with a double win for the team. Hansen let his younger team-mate take the victory, saying, "He needs it more than I do."
Since then, he has been on the road, riding Amstel Gold Race, La Flèche Wallonne, Liège-Bastogne-Liège and the Tour de Romandie. He is only now beginning to feel back to normal. "Romandie was OK. Bit of a mix of racing, going hard in some hill days and staying with Cav [sprinter Mark Cavendish - ed.]. But I finished it really well and got better as the days went along."
Because of this racing schedule, he left home on April 19 and finally made it back to his home in the Czech Republic this week – for a grand total of 40 hours. "My suitcase never made it out of the hall, just unpacked and repacked for the Giro and got ready to go again." It's not a problem for him, though. "I think we get used to being away so much. It's part of the fun seeing new places. Romandie was good. I've never seen such nice country in all my life."