Adam Hansen is eager to help Andre Greipel beat Mark Cavendish in 2011 after the Australian moved with Greipel from HTC to Omega Pharma-Lotto.
“I have been working closely with Andre in the past year and a half. He asked me if I would like to continue working for him in a different team,” Hansen told Cyclingnews. “The idea alone sounded like a huge challenge and something totally different.”
Hansen, Greipel and Cavendish had all been teammates at HTC-Columbia since 2007, with Greipel joining the team first, in 2006. The latter two have competed for the title of top sprinter in the peloton over the years, with the Briton usually getting the nod from Highroad management to ride the bigger races. Their rivalry turned into a verbal spat in 2010, with Greipel's non-selection for the Tour de France leading to him quitting the team.
“Andre has always been in the shadow of Cav. So now Andre wants to have a go at the major races and see what he is able to do," said Hansen. "It sounded like a massive challenge for me because he's never raced against Cav and to want to go head to head with him is not easy for anyone. For sure he would need great support as the HTC team had perfected their leadouts for Cav."
Hansen continued: “In a way I felt like I could not let a friend go out and do that alone and I'd like to be there and support his idea. Things are going to be different, but we will work together and do our best to give Andre what he needs to sprint at the biggest races and make sure he has every chance to win."
The 29-year-old has prepared sprints for both riders, and he says “they are chalk and cheese sprinters. Very different with different strengths. It's going to be an exciting year. They are just too different and too close to each other.
"We will be a step behind because of being a new team, and having never to sprint against such a strong train like HTC. But we have all season to improve on it. It will be stepping stones to get it right but so far we are on the right way."
Greipel and Cavendish will clash for the first time at the Tour Down Under on January 16. It will be Cavendish's first appearance in a race at which Greipel has made his own, winning eight stages in three appearances and taking the overall title twice, including in 2010.
“Andre knows the course well and won on it every time while racing it. HTC has brought the strongest gun team they could. I don't know if that's a fear factor or what but it's one strong team they have,” said Hansen
And he knows how the race will pan out: “Expect action for sure. We will be right in the centre of it.”