– Reported by Guy Wilson-Roberts-
When PEZ last talked with Adam Hansen, the Australian time trial champ had just suffered a nasty crash at Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne that saw him bundled off to hospital with head and shoulder injuries. A lengthy rehabilitation seemed likely.
It may have seemed like a long time for Hansen to be out of racing, but he was back in action after less than a month at the Criterium International. He followed this up with a storming ride at Hel Van Het Mergelland, the 1.1 race in Holland. Hansen and High Road teammate Tony Martin went off the front just 20 kilometres into the race, dangling just ahead of the peloton, but eventually building a lead of over 7 minutes for the 188-kilometre race. Martin took first and Hansen second.
Hansen leads teammate Tony Martin on their day-long break at Hel Van Het Mergelland.
With a busy schedule of races, Amstel (where he finished 76th), Fleche, Liиge-Bastogne-Liиge, the Tour de Romandie, and the Giro, PEZ asked Hansen if he was happy with his form coming back from injury.
“I’m very pleased with how things are going,” he said. “I’m in a very good way at the moment and very much looking forward to the middle part of the season.”
The weather at Hel Van Het Mergelland turned out to be atrocious, with persistent cold rain. Over half the field abandoned, including Alessandro Petacchi, the entire CSC squad, and a number of the High Road riders. The team reported that as the race went on, Hansen eventually lost feeling in his hands and feet and could barely change gears and brake properly.
PEZ wanted to find out more about the epic ride, but Hansen was a little reluctant to relive the experience.
If you’re gonna get second, it’s best that your teammate is the winner.
“Lets not bring up bad memories shall we,” he said, “The weather was shocking.”
Hansen will have a visible role in the climbing classics but, as he explained to PEZ, his main goals will be Romandie and the Giro so we were interested in his training and preparation at present.
“A bit of everything really,” he explained. “I’ve got some strange training idea’s and goals. Romandie is my main goal and then the Giro, so I’m sort of still in a volume-strength faze.”
L-B-L is this weekend for Hansen, and he will be part of a strong contingent riding in support of Kim Kirchen, who has already shown great this year in the Basque country tour, and even greater form taking the win at today’s 2008 Fleche. But Hansen also suggested another rider on the team to look out for.
“For sure we will help Kim as much as possible,” he told PEZ. “But we also have some other really good guys like Edvald [Boasson Hagen – Norway’s time trial champ and TT stage winner at the Criterium International] who I hope will shine too. He’s a talent and a horse!”
The team has apparently already talked tactics and Hansen will work to support Kirchen right to the conclusion of the race. With his own form, Hansen was not entirely ready to rule out his own chances should the opportunity arise.
“I’ve been asked to be there in the final for Kim,” he said. “I had a nice phone call from our sports director, Valerio [Piva], about it. He was making sure I’m in good shape and healthy going into the race. Kinda funny when they do that, call you up, ‘Ah, Adam, you must ride classic well, must be in the final for Kim, you healthy?’ I joked and said, ‘Kim? What about me? I’m in the best shape ever!’ ‘Ah, good,’ Valerio said. ‘Kim or you podium, I problem not.’ Got to love them.”
Adam in action at Amstel Gold Race 2008.
Hansen worked hard in the race last year, for T-Mobile, but the team pulled him out just after 200 kilometres as the field was breaking apart and most of his work was done. PEZ asked if that was part of the plan and if the team were keen to pull the plug on his ride.
“They were a little, which I wasn’t happy about,” he said. “Sure I did what I could but I wanted to ride to the finish to see the remainder of the course, but they pushed me to stop. So now going into the race this year, I don’t know what to expect in the final.”
Having seen the whole route at least on paper, Hansen probably has some idea what the final part of the race will look like. The succession of short, steep climbs will guarantee plenty of splits in the peloton and some frantic ascending. In a long race like L-B-L, PEZ wondered where the pain really started to kick in.
“For me it was position that really got me and I was too far back,” Hansen explained. “Trying to come to the front after it was split up everywhere was impossible for me at that time.”
Hansen doing the work at today’s Fleche-Wallone.
So the secret to doing well this year?
“Position. I’ve done the work, just have to stay upfront and put it to practice,” he said.
Expect to see Team High Road very active this weekend and there is certainly a good chance that one of the team’s riders will grab a podium spot. Hansen, though, is already looking ahead to the Tour de Romandie and PEZ was interested if he had been doing any specific preparation for the time trials, given he will be wearing his Australian strip for the events.
“Yes and no,” he explained. “Not as much as I would like to. But with all the racing coming up I don’t think I will have a chance anyway.”
Back from injury, then, in great form with some good rides in his legs, PEZ got the impression that Hansen was really looking forward to the start of the multi-day racing and ready to ride from the gate at the prologue in Geneva on April 29.
“Yep, Romandie is where I hope to shine,” he said.
With the Giro starting just after, Hansen is not the only one looking forward to some more great racing – we can hardly wait ourselves!
Check out www.AdamHansen.com for all his exploits and see the team site at www.HighRoadSports.com.