It probably didn’t even occur to you that he might be absent, but after 18 grand tours in a row, Lotto-Soudal’s Adam Hansen had actually been due to sit out this year’s Vuelta a Espana, which begins on August 19. According to his team, Hansen has been suffering from a saddle sore, but a broken hip sustained by Rafael Valls during training meant that someone had to step into the team’s line-up. Who else was it going to be?
Speaking about Hansen’s initial omission, Marc Sergeant, sports manager at Lotto Soudal, had said: “Adam was suffering from saddle sore at the Tour. There are less than four weeks between the end of the Tour and the start of the Vuelta. After less than two weeks the injury is healing, but has not disappeared, so the staff fears the injury might play up again during the Vuelta.
“At the moment Adam hasn’t resumed training yet, so that means the preparation would be really short too. With the sporting goals in mind too, the staff decided not to select him. It’s true that Adam has set a fantastic record, but we knew that would come to an end sooner or later.”
However, following Valls’ injury, Hansen now has the opportunity to continue his run.
In a statement on Twitter, the Australian expressed surprise at the public reaction to his inclusion.
“It has been very overwhelming to read all the messages and comments regarding my selection in the Vuelta, not only the fans, but even messages from some of our sports directors, our team staff and also more than expected from other pro riders. I’ve had bigger reactions towards this than both of my grand tour stage wins.
“I always wondered why when I sign on at the start of every stage that they always talk about my consecutive tours and never about that I have won stages in both the Giro and Vuelta. But after reading what you have all been saying, it really shows that in cycling it’s more than about who is first across the line.”
When he completed the 2015 Vuelta a España, his thirteenth grand tour in a row, Hansen broke Bernardo Ruiz's 57-year-old record for consecutive grand tours completed.
Three-week races are “not easy” he says, with a degree of understatement. “Doing one a year is a hard task, doing two is not normal and doing three in a year – only less than two handfuls of riders have ever completed. I’ve done 18 in a row, now starting 19…
“I know the team wants to protect me and of course I could be a better rider if I took more rest and refocused on a different goal and I appreciate that from my team Lotto Soudal.”
He says the efforts have taken a toll on his body. “However, at the moment I have this good thing going. It could end in the first stage in the Vuelta this year from a crash, you never know.
“I feel I’m the guy that goes to work every day, do my job, don’t complain and clock off when I should, day in and day out and who doesn’t like to quit anything that I have started. I feel I am really testing myself mentally and physically on what the human body can do and pushing the limits to the maxi and seeing where the maximum of myself is.
“So I’m back. I will start my 19th grand tour in a row… six years of suffering, pain and pure love of it all.”