The 39-year-old has been racing at WorldTour level since 2007 and has enjoyed a career that included stage wins in both the Giro d’Italia and the Vuelta a Espana.
Hansen also set a record by completing 20 Grand Tours in a row between 2011and 2018 but with his current deal at Lotto Soudal ending this year and the need for a new challenge, he has decided to concentrate on an entirely different challenge.
“I’m going to change sports,” Hansen announced in the latest Cyclingnews podcast.
“I’m going to get into Ironman next year. You are the first to hear about this actually. I did one last year and I’ve always wanted to go into Ironman after cycling, so it’s always something that I wanted to do but I’ve enjoyed cycling so much that I kept continuing but as I’m getting older I know that I’m running out of years.
"I did Ironman Florida last year for the experience and I really enjoyed it. I was considering making the switch this year but I did another year (of road racing) but this was always in the works and around March I made the final decision.”
There is still a slim hope of Hansen remaining within cycling if he can find a team that will accommodate his Ironman schedule and road racing but if that doesn’t happen then he will throw himself into a new world with complete commitment.
The Giro d’Italia could be his final race at the WorldTour.
“If can find a team as Cam Wurf did and maybe have a programme, maybe that’s an option but if not then it’s going to be 100 per cent around Ironman," Hansen explained.
"I do Ironman Portugal on November 7 to give me another touch of it, so after the Giro, I’ve basically got two weeks to do some running and swimming. I’ll be racing in the pro category but I won’t be taking it too seriously."
Competing in an Ironman last year took Hansen outside of his comfort zone and showed him that racing in a new sport could be both challenging and reinvigorating.
He has spent the majority of his cycling career riding in the services of others and his departure will leave a huge hole in the sport, especially when it comes to his knowledge and stature as one of the most respected riders in the peloton. However, he’s ready for a new environment.
“I’m really looking forward to choosing the races that I want to do and not doing races that I don’t want to do. I’ll spend more time at home and I really love training, I really love it, so it’s a new thing and I’m really excited about getting into it. I think this will really suit a rider like me, a workhorse who can work on the front all day. That’s what an Ironman athlete really does,” he said.
“I really want to go to the World Championships. I’ve got really high expectations of myself and I hope to do at least three to four seasons. It’s going to be full-on. It’s something that I’m excited about and that helps when it comes to saying goodbye to cycling. On the other side, I’ll still be riding my bike and being dedicated and serious. I have a lot of friends in the peloton.
"I’ve done cycling for a number of years and you do the same races over and over but when I did Ironman Florida last year I was nervous before the start and in cycling a lot of riders miss this because when you’ve got a role you’re helping out you lose the aspect of your racing. When I was on the start line at Ironman it was on me.”