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While cycling legend Jens Voigt (Trek) lavishly soaks up the accolades and well wishes on what will be his swan song year in front of the more than 766,000 fans who lined the roads of the Santos Tour Down Under in South Australia, Adam Hansen (Lotto-Belisol) is quickly building a fan base to rival the German known as 'Jensie.'
Hansen spent the week capturing valuable King of the Mountain points and ended the race as the only rider to wear the green polka dot jersey also finishing ninth in general classification just 37 seconds behind three-time race winner Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge).
"It's been very good for our team," Hansen told Cyclingnews immediately after teammate Andre Greipel outsprinted the field on Stage 6 – his second of the week and 16th of his career to extend his lead of stage wins at the Tour Down Under. "We've got two firsts, two seconds and a fourth, and I finished in the top 10 on GC. It's been a good week for sure."
With exceptional talent, a charming sense of humour and an engineering education, it's no wonder fans of cycling are flocking to the 32-year-old Queenslander who has made a specialty of conquering all three cycling Grand Tours in the same season which he has done for the past two years.
"It is better I do stage races than single day races," said the 2013 Giro d'Italia stage seven winner. "I have very good recovery so it works out well. I like being in repetition. Mentally it is very simple, you just go out there and race, race, race and then go home, relax, chill and start over again. I like it like that."
The former mountain biker-turned-roadie, with two Crocodile Trophy wins to his name – the oldest mountain bike stage race in the world, embraces his increasing popularity and favourable comparisons to Voigt.
"The fans in cycling are truly great and have been really good to me," he said. "People want to reach out and touch the riders, and at races like this they can do just that – it's fantastic."
Hansen said the similarities between the two are many. "I always liked Jens as I always related to him as a rider," Hansen told Cyclingnews. "I always said three years ago I would retire when he retires and now he is 42-years-old so that means I have another 10 more years in my career.
"We are almost the same height, same weight and same style of rider," he added. "In some ways I think we are closely matched except I am 10 years younger."
Hansen's popularity has led to many interests off the bike as well. In February, Hansen will open his new website hanseen.com which will feature an entire line of cycling apparel and shoes both designed and manufactured by Hansen himself who wears the unique shoes when racing.
"I need to switch off when I get away from races," said Hansen, who will now head back to his Beskydy countryside home in the Czech Republic before racing Tirreno-Adriatico in March. "I am very focused on my cycling, but I like to do other things outside of it so it's good for me mentally and it's very stimulating."