By Susan Westemeyer
T-Mobile's Adam Hansen is riding his first races in Belgium and has a fundamental question: "Why would anyone want to ride uphill on cobbles? Really, why?"
He asked himself that during Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne and Le Samyn and will have the opportunity to further explore it during the Record Dreidaagse van West-Vlaanderen this weekend.
Hansen returned from the Tour of California and got a last minute call that he was going to ride the Belgian races. "I'm excited to race in Belgium, never have before," he wrote on his website, adamhansen.com. "Everyone seems to say it's going to teach me a lot how to ride, which is a good thing and also a bad thing. I'm willing to learn, but I feel it isn't going to be easy at all and it's going to hurt. But hey!"
Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne was his first experience in Belgium, and the going was fast and furious. "Guys were going crazy for position. I must have locked my back wheel at least 10 times from riders in front of me crossing over without any care of what's behind."
Hansen had an additional problem over the weekend, in that he was still recovering from the flight back from California. At 3 a.m. Monday, he wrote "I hate jetlag and I'm still affected by it. I would have thought I would be fine now. But I'm not. I noticed at the race today (K-B-K) that towards the end my body just said it was enough from the jetlag. I was just tired."
He was feeling better by the time Le Samyn rolled around. "Once we got to the finishing laps, the action started to happen. With big cross winds and FJD going spastic on the front, things started to open up." Hansen did well enough to end up in the leading group on the last lap, with teammate Roger Hammond.
"It looked like a top three guaranteed." But...... "While Roger and I talked some tactics, Gilbert attacked and I must admit, we weren't ready and we were a bit off the back. I was going hard and when I noticed that they had found out that we were not there and started to work, I didn't want to take any chances, so I did a huge turn to get Roger up there, and it killed me."
"Roger made it but I had fully died. I really dug deep to get across and it took me over 4 minutes and I was dead twice." Despite his exhaustion, the team kept telling him to attack and attack. "By the time we got to 1 km to go, I had used everything and it was all up to Roger. I half made it to the finish." He finished 6th on the stage.