When Andre Greipel made the decision to move to Omega Pharma-Lotto from HTC-Columbia at the end of 2010, Adam Hansen followed having been gradually been shifted from supporting Mark Cavendish to the big German. An essential part of Griepel's 21 wins last season, the Australian's first season with the Belgian outfit hasn't generated the same results.
It was a move that Hansen has no doubt found frustrating throughout the year but his season has finally started coming together following the Tour of Poland, the Vuelta a Espana and last week, the Tour of Beijing before heading to Australia for the Jayco Herald Sun Tour. It all boils down to the fact that the 30-year-old is getting solid stage racing under his belt – something which had been light on in the early part of the year.
"My start of the season wasn't so good – I ran a different program," Hansen explained to Cyclingnews. "Then with the classics I didn't do so well, and I don't normally do them. It was hard after that to get back to normal routine and I wasn't selected for the Tour [de France]."
Hansen attacked the field on Thursday on the opening KOM of the 140km, second stage from Sovereign Hill to Geelong. He was first over the Mt. Buninyong climb and eventually finished seventh in a bunch finish.
Prior to this season, Hansen had been a key member of the well-oiled, finely-tuned machine that was the Highroad leadout train which would take on stage races with three or four national time trial champions, allowing for an extra strength that was almost taken for granted.
"In HTC we had such good quality time trialists and you don't realise that until you don't have them," he said. "When you have them there, every thing's easy."
Given Highroad's demise and now many of Cavendish's key lead out men are going their separate ways or chasing wins for themselves in Mark Renshaw's case, Hansen adds some perspective to the challenges which lay ahead.
"What we noticed was that we went with Lotto with a good group of guys, but we were more the final guys in the leadout," he explained. "We didn't realise it at the time but the guys who went before us were so important and when we missed that with Lotto, everyone in the train had to step down a bit and do that type of work and that would obviously leave Andre unsupported in the last few kilometres – that made it a bit more difficult.
"Also, we all ran a different program at the start of the season so we weren't doing real sprint races, the more classic races and that changed a lot," he continued. "Especially in the leadouts because the leadouts were different and Andre wasn't getting as many wins because he was also doing new races. Next year it should be interesting. HTC will no longer exist and everyone's splitting up – which is a real shame."
Greipel claimed 10 victories this season, his worst since 2007 when he hit the line first in just two races. What was once 'easy', was now that little bit more difficult.
"Here it was just harder to do your job because results weren't coming in for Andre," Hansen said. "Not that he wasn't getting results, he just didn't have as many. That kind of changes the perspectives from the sports director's idea, they're going, 'what's going on?'
"But I've never regretted the decision to go with Andre."