When Adam Hansen rolled down the starting ramp on Saturday’s team time trial in the Vuelta a España, the Lotto-Belisol rider began the three-week stage race that could see him equal the all time record of Grand Tour finishes in a single year.
Having finished the Giro and the Tour this year and now started the Vuelta, Hansen is on track for a third straight triple of Grand Tours in 2012, 2013 and 2014. If he finishes then he will equal the record held jointly by Spain’s Marino Lejaretta - who rode and finished all three Grand Tours in 1989, 1990 and 1991 - and another Spaniard, Vuelta winner Bernardo Ruiz, who did the same in 1955, 1956, and 1957.
It could be argued the 34-year-old Australian is actually striking into new terrain, given he also rode (and finished) the 2011 Vuelta and therefore has already completed nine Grand Tours in a row. Others would say that given the Vuelta was held in April prior to 1995, and not September, then it is impossible to make a comparison. However, should Hansen finish the Vuelta in Santiago de Compostela on September 14th, those debates will, in any case, lose any sense.
“The first year I went into this [the Vuelta] over-trained, last year I went into it just right and this year, I’ve gone into it a bit more recovered, because I want to have a good race here and in that case it’s better to be more safe than sorry,” Hansen told Cyclingnews.
Hansen has one concern. He says he is lacking reference points as to what his condition is like. “With the Giro I do [the Tour of] Turkey beforehand, with the Tour I do the ZLM [stage race in Holland in June] so I can judge my form. This time I have nothing to go on, no racing after the Tour at all.”
“Last year, in any case, I noticed that in Beijing I was a bit over my limit and I want to do a good World Championships if I can this year. So I’ve come here a bit fresher, and I’ll go for a good ten days in the last part of the Vuelta which I think suits me better.”
Hansen made a brief attack late on stage three, powering clear in impressive style and getting a gap of around 20 seconds. But he was reeled in before the final short uphill ascent.
“I attacked because I was bored,” Hansen told Cyclingnews on Tuesday. “But once I got away, there was a headwind so I knew I wouldn’t stay away.”
As for Lotto-Belisol’s overall aims, Hansen explains that their leader is not Jurgen Van Den Broeck, but Maxime Monfort, “with Van Den Broeck and also Bart de Clercq as very good back-up for the mountains. Sander [Armee] is also a great climber. We’ll see how it develops because after stage six [to La Zubia’s summit finish] we’ll have a better idea of how gc will go. The hope is that Maxime will go the whole way.”