Hansen had already claimed a Giro stage win in Pescara last year, taking it from a 147-kilometre breakaway in heavy rain after dropping Italian Emmanuele Sella.
This time Hansen secured a win in very different circumstances, sheering out of the pack four kilometres from the line and then fending off the peloton to win five seconds ahead of John Degenkolb (Giant-Shimano).
“For me it’s very important, I got a Giro stage win and now I got a Vuelta stage win,” Hansen said. “I always like the Vuelta, it’s got good weather, it’s hot and I love the heat, so to win here is very special.”
Hansen had tried some early attacks in the first week - his explanation at the time to Cyclingnews being that he “had been bored” - but he said today he had “better timing and the profile suited me a lot better.”
More than half the Vuelta teams have not won stages, including Lotto-Belisol prior to Hansen’s win, and he said “the pressure had been growing on the team as the days counted down.
“I knew that [Michael] Matthews (Orica Green-Edge) and Degenkolb’s teams had been working hard in the first part of the stage to bring back the break [of the day] so they didn’t have much energy left.”
After the Vuelta, Hansen will race the team time trial at the Worlds and then round off his year at the Tour of Beijing. Next year, he says, he “hopes to have exactly the same program as this season.”
Barring disaster, the Australian is on the point of completing his tenth Grand Tour in a row, equalling the record of racing and completing all three - the Giro, Vuelta and Tour - in three single seasons held by Bernardo Ruiz and Marino Lejarreta.
Hansen was asked if - as in the Giro when he won his stage - he had shaved his head in the morning prior to racing as a way, as he then put it back then, “of making sure I remembered it was going to be a special day.”
“I did plan to shave my head this morning, but I didn’t have much time,” he said. “The only wacky thing I did was I had three pieces of strawberry bubble gum this morning, and I was blowing bubbles in the first 30 kilometres of racing.”
Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 as well as numerous other bike races of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the Olympic Games in 2008 to the now sadly defunct Subida a Urkiola hill climb in Spain. Apart from working for Cyclingnews.com, he is also the cycling correspondent for The Independent and The Independent on Sunday.
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