With the stage 3 finale of the Tour de France into Longwy teasing the possibility of breakaway success, it was no surprise to see Adam Hansen infiltrate the day's breakaway. Riding his 18th consecutive Grand Tour, the Australian explained that Lotto-Soudal's objective for the stage was to feature in the breakaway.
"Before the race, we had agreed that Lars Bak, Thomas De Gendt and I could be in the breakaway. Thomas made some efforts in the beginning of the race and eventually, I managed to be in the right break. I was part of a nice front group of six riders, but it soon became clear that the peloton was aiming for the victory and the gap was always limited," said Hansen.
With the six-man breakaway of Hansen, Nate Brown (Cannondale-Drapac), Nils Politt (Katusha-Alpecin), Romain Hardy (Fortuneo-Oscaro), Frederik Backaert (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) and Romain Sicard (Direct Energie) starting to lose cohesion, the move from the peloton saw Lilian Calmejane (Direct Energie), Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal), and Pierre-Luc Perichon (Fortuneo-Oscaro) bridge across to join their teammates.
The move gave the breakaway greater impetus and drive. However, Hansen explained the presence of danger men De Gendt and Calmejane also served to kill the breakaway's chance of a win.
"Thomas made a very smart move to bridge the gap with the front group, together with Calmejane and Périchon. When he joined us, I immediately helped Thomas as much as I could," the 36-year-old said of his Belgian teammate. "The peloton panicked for a moment as they knew the capabilities of Thomas and Calmejane. Unfortunately, the breakaway could not survive until the end.
With his and De Gendt's chances extinguished, Hansen sat up to conserve his energy ahead of tomorrow's sprint stage into Vittel were Lotto Soudal would aim to deliver Andre Greipel to the stage win. Having enjoyed his first break of the 2017 Tour, Hansen added that when he isn;t looking after Greipel, he will aim to add to his Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a Espana stage wins.
"Although we faced a lot of headwinds, I enjoyed the day in the breakaway. I'm sure that I will feel the effects of today's stage in the days to come," said Hansen, who finished over 11 minutes down on stage winner Peter Sagan in Longwy.
"Tomorrow, there is another chance for the sprinters and I will do my best to assist André Greipel in the finale. For the moment, I am feeling very well and I hope this feeling stays for the remainder of the Tour de France, so that I can be in another breakaway later on."
Wheway companion Adam Hansen is currently riding his sixth consecutive Tour de France, 18th consecutive Grand Tour in total, and eight overall, Lilian Calmejane is riding his first lap of France. A stage winner on his Grand Tour debut at last year's Vuelta a Espana, the Direct Energie rider secured his first visit to the Tour podium after he was awarded the combativity prize for stage 3.
Having collected his prize on the podium, the 24-year-old explained he didn't believe the break would stay away but had promised himself he would b aggressive regardless.
"I promised at the start of the Tour that I'd ride offensively and I'm glad I was true to my words today," said Calmejane. "I attacked instinctively from the bunch when I realized the breakaway was going nowhere. Once we were nine at the front, Adam Hansen and Romain Sicard sacrificed themselves for Thomas De Gendt and myself. We would have needed a great De Gendt for taking the breakaway further but with the headwind and because the peloton was full of resources, I had very few chances to succeed."
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