By Susan Westemeyer
"Vuelta, here I come!" T-Mobile's Adam Hansen proudly announced. The Australian will be hoping to make up for his Grand Tour debut in the Giro d'Italia that didn't quite go as planned, as he had to drop out after only the second stage with a serious hand injury.
"Yes, I'm doing the Vuelta, and I can't wait," he explained to Cyclingnews Monday morning. "It should be good. It's the end of the season, riders are tired and our team is a little short at the moment with such a big race program. They said they were happy with how I'm riding and wanted me to do it.
"It will be a good experience, I think," he continued. "In fact, I'm looking forward to it." His hand shouldn't present any difficulties. "I won't have any problems with my hand, either. It has come along very good."
Going into the Giro he said, "I want to walk away healthy and not dead. I want it to bring me on to the next level." (Read the Giro interview.) After celebrating his 26th birthday with his team-mates on the day before the race started, he rode the opening stage team time trial. But his great adventure finished on the very next day as another rider touched wheels with him, bringing him down hard on his right hand and smashing his right ring and little fingers.
He had surgery on the hand and sat out much of the summer, returning to action in the Österreich Rundfahrt. His best finish there was in the fifth stage, where he came in sixth as a member of a successful breakaway group.
Since then he has been racing steadily, appearing in the ProTour races Clásica San Sebastián, Vattenfall Cyclassics and the Eneco Tour, which he dropped out of to prepare for the Vuelta. He was the best T-Mobile rider in the Tour de l'Ain, finishing 19th overall and drawing praise from team management. "Adam did very well in this challenging race. He is finding his way back to his old form after his serious hand injury," said Directeur Sportif Valerio Piva on t-mobile-team.com.
Hansen joined T-Mobile for this season after riding for smaller Austrian teams. His nickname is the 'Crocodile Man' because he won Australia's legendary Crocodile Trophy twice. (Read related Hanson feature.)