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PESCARA, Italy (VN) — When he crossed the finish line alone and in the rain at the Giro d’Italia on Friday, Adam Hansen had done more than win the stage — he’d carved out a little slice of cycling history.
Riding for the Belgian squad Lotto-Belisol, the brawny 31-year-old Australian — he turns 32 on Saturday — rode with panache, driving a six-man breakaway over a hilly course profile, going clear with 20 kilometers remaining, and holding off a chasing group of overall favorites to take a dramatic solo victory.
The win came as just dessert for the muscle-bound rider who has spent his career humbly churning over his pedals in the shadows as a domestique.
“This is the biggest win of my life,” Hansen said at the finish. “It’s a very special day. Tomorrow is my birthday, and this is a good present for myself. This means a lot to me; I was very emotional when I crossed the line. I never thought this would ever happen.”
A former computer programmer — he even gave advanced database lectures at his university — Hansen came into pro cycling through triathlon.
“I started as a runner, and then got into triathlon,” Hansen said. “The swim and run were my best disciplines, so I focused more on my cycling. I came to Austria to ride for an amateur team. My year in Austria was enjoyable, I found I really loved cycling, and I never turned back.”
After four seasons with amateur Austrian teams, Hansen joined T-Mobile in 2007, riding under manager Bob Stapleton and sport directors Rolf Aldag and Brian Holm. In all, he spent four years with the team, riding in support of team leaders such as Mark Cavendish and Michael Rogers. He left the team for the Lotto squad in 2011.
Though he’s not historically been a winner, during his career Hansen has become a bit of a sentimental fan favorite, both for his humble, low-key personality and his hardman accomplishments, such as finishing all three grand tours in 2012.
He’s also known for having a laugh on social media — like when he posted photos of a skeleton in a Lotto team kit on Twitter during the off-season — and for his custom race shoes, which he designed himself.
Lotto-Belisol came to the Giro without a specified GC rider or sprinter, opening the door to opportunists. On a difficult stage with four categorized climbs, 8,500 feet of elevation gain in the final 50km, and countless uncategorized climbs before that, Hansen made it into the day’s breakaway alongside five other riders. That, he said, was the hardest part of his day.
“Today, on profile, looked like breakaway stage,” Hansen said. “The stages before, we were not really jumping to get into a break and I was hoping it was going to be today. I was very motivated this morning; I even shaved my head to be ready for it. It was always the idea today to be in the break, but it’s very difficult, with a lot of fighting at the start. People don’t realize that the hardest part of the race is to get into the break. Once it’s sorted, it’s almost like a lottery, if it stays, or comes back.”
As the stage progressed and the group’s lead over the peloton stretched out to seven minutes, Hansen said he began to believe they might have a chance to stay clear and fight it out for the stage win. However, as the time gap began to fall back down, particularly when Vini Fantini-Selle Italia began to up the tempo in hopes of setting up local favorite Danilo Di Luca, Hansen said he feared his time off the front of the race was short.
Believing that Emanuele Sella (Androni Giocattoli-Venezuela) appeared to be the strongest of his breakaway companions, Hansen said he began formalizing a plan to get to the finish line alone. The 6-foot, 170-pound strongman had his work cut out for him, first against the 5-foot-4, 110-pound Italian climber, and later, navigating the wet, treacherous descent that took down several GC favorites.
“I knew Sella was strongest, and I don’t think he would have expected me to challenge him on the climbs, so I started trying to crack him mentally,” Hansen said. “I think it was more of a shock for him, and I was surprised that he suffered on a few of the climbs. Even in the last 10km, with the time gaps I had been given, I was never so sure, I never believed, I always thought it would come back. Then, when I heard it was 2:30 with 6km to go, I thought, ‘It’s really happening. This time I’m bringing it home.’ It really is a lottery.”
On Friday, riding with panache on a team sponsored by the Belgian national lottery, Hansen, the eternal underdog, came up a winner.
“It’s very nice,” he said. “You work, and work, and work, and then you finally get one back. I appreciate it very much, this win.”
MADRID (AFP) — Cycling’s world governing body, the UCI, confirmed on Friday that it would appeal the decision by a Spanish court to refuse access to more than 200 sachets of blood that were seized in the Operación Puerto case against convicted doping doctor Eufemiano Fuentes.
“The UCI can confirm that it will appeal the decision of the Madrid court of 29 April not to release to the UCI and other anti-doping organizations the more than 200 bags of blood and other evidence gathered in police raids in 2006, which were presented in the trial of Spanish doctor Eufemiano Fuentes,” read a statement from the UCI.
In appealing, cycling’s world governing body is following in the footsteps of the Spanish anti-doping agency (AEA), which already announced its intention to appeal judge Julia Patricia Santamaria’s decision to withhold the evidence.
“I have to ask the judge to give me whatever documentary or natural evidence there is, along with the blood bags, so that the proven facts that she herself considers as administrative infractions can be judged by the competent authorities,” said the then-head of the AEA, Ana Munoz.
A Madrid court last month handed Fuentes a one-year suspended sentence for endangering public health in the way he performed blood extractions and transfusions on a number of high-profile cyclists before the doping ring was dismantled in 2006.
In addition, trainer Ignacio Labarta was condemned to four months in prison, while three other co-accused — Eufemiano’s sister Yolanda Fuentes, Vicente Belda and former Liberty Seguros director Manolo Saiz — were cleared.
However, Santamaria refused to grant access for anti-doping agencies to the 211 blood and plasma bags that were found in Fuentes’ apartments in 2006. Instead, she ruled that they should be destroyed.
Editor’s Note: This video is courtesy of Global Cycling Network. The opinions expressed in this video do not necessarily represent the opinions of VeloNews.com, Velo magazine or the editors and staff of Competitor Group, Inc.
- 1. Adam HANSEN, Lotto-Belisol, in 4:35:49
- 2. Enrico BATTAGLIN, Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox, at 1:07
- 3. Danilo DI LUCA, Vini Fantini-Selle Italia, at 1:07
- 4. Mauro SANTAMBROGIO, Vini Fantini-Selle Italia, at 1:07
- 5. Damiano CARUSO, Cannondale, at 1:07
- 6. Cadel EVANS, BMC Racing, at 1:07
- 7. Stefano PIRAZZI, Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox, at 1:07
- 8. Arnold JEANNESSON, FDJ, at 1:07
- 9. Pieter WEENING, Orica-GreenEdge, at 1:07
- 10. Ryder HESJEDAL, Garmin-Sharp, at 1:07
- DNS Klaas LODEWYCK, BMC Racing
- DNF Mattia CATTANEO, Lampre-Merida
- DNS Leigh HOWARD, Orica-GreenEdge
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Adam Hansen (Lotto-Belisol) won stage 7 of the Giro d’Italia on Friday in Pescara, Italy. Hansen attacked from the day’s long breakaway to win solo after a wet, wild 177 kilometers.
Beñat Intxausti (Movistar) finished with the first chase group and pulled on the overall leader’s maglia rosa. Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) and Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp) moved up to second and third overall, five and eight seconds adrift, respectively.
Bradley Wiggins (Sky) crashed on the descent from the Cat. 4 San Silvestro climb and lost big time on the stage. He finished in a group with overnight leader Luca Paolini (Katusha), more than a minute down.
The Giro d’Italia continues Saturday with the 54.8km stage 8 individual time trial from Gabicce Mare to Saltara.
Hansen makes the break and thinks about the finish
Six riders made up the day’s long escape: Hansen, Dominique Rollin (FDJ), Emanuele Sella (Androni Giocattoli-Venezuela), Ioannis Tamouridis (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Maarten Tajallingii (Blanco), and Pim Ligthart (Vacansoleil-DCM).
The group pushed out to more than seven minutes and Hansen said after the stage that with four short, categorized climbs ahead, he began to think about the finish.
“Normally I’m pretty good in a breakaway. When we had good time, I thought I had a good chance,” he said. “I don’t usually climb so bad, against specialists it’s another story, but in the breakaway, I’m not bad.”
The group carried more than two minutes onto the Cat. 3 Chieti-Pietragrossa with 39km to go.
Rigoberto Urán crashed on the steep Pietragrossa ramp after a rider in front of him slowed suddenly. The Colombian quickly remounted and stayed with the peloton.
Up front, Sella took top points at the day’s second of four categorized climbs to narrow his gap to mountains leader Giovanni Visconti (Movistar).
Fabio Taborre (Vini Fantini-Selle Italia) launched a bid to bridge across to the breakaway with 35km to go.
Moments later, Hansen pushed the pace in the breakaway on the Chieti-Tricalle climb, splitting the group. Sella was the only rider able to follow, tucked in behind the big Lotto all-rounder on the climb.
Taborre pushed his way up the Tricalle ramp, just 100 meters ahead of the bunch. Behind him, the peloton exploded on the climb. Overall leader Paolini hung tight, six wheels from the back of the bunch.
Sella took top points on the climb and led down the upper portion of the descent, but the rain began to fall and trouble struck when he led into a tight, right-hand corner. Sella locked up his brakes and went down on the outside of the turn, leaving Hansen on his own.
The Lotto man continued on, but soft-pedaled and waited for his companion to rejoin him.
Sky led the bunch with three riders, Blanco and Lampre-Merida lined up behind them with 25.8km.
Taborre continued to push, joining Tamouridis 2:04 behind the leaders with 25.5km to go. Ligthart, Tjallingii, and Rollin were up the road a further minute.
Hansen went alone on the Cat. 3 Santa Maria de Criptis, less than 1:30 ahead of the peloton, and took top points on the climb. Sella was second over the line, but could not close the gap to Hansen. The Aussie was gone.
Danilo Di Luca (Vini Fantini) surged partway up the climb and rode clear to Taborre, but Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) and Michele Scarponi (Lampre-Merida) closed the gap quickly and split the peloton. The Vini Fantini breakaway man led over the top of the climb, with roughly 15 riders following. The peloton was soon back together. The three major GC favorites were each there: Nibali, Wiggins, and Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp).
Up front, Hansen pushed hard down the descent to the day’s final climb, the Cat. 4 San Silvestro, searching for the line between speed and balance on the pooling tarmac. He held 2:05 on the peloton with 15km remaining.
“Lotto-Belisol’s won a stage here the last four years,” he said after the stage. “In the pre-race meeting, Marc Sergent said, ‘One of you will win,’ and I thought, ‘why not me?’”
Tanel Kangert (Astana) attacked from the bunch and went solo. Behind him, Peter Weening (Orica-GreenEdge), Scarponi, and Robert Kiserlosvski (RadioShack-Leopard) launched. With the latter two outside GC contenders, the move sparked a reaction from Blanco. Steven Kruijswijk led the chase for teammate Robert Gesink in the peloton.
Meanwhile, Hansen had 1:15 on Sella and 2:47 on Kangert with 9km to go.
Nibali rolled past the Blanco tandem on the left on the descent with 8.5km to go and quickly distanced them. Yuri Tofimov (Katusha) followed and the surge put stress on the peloton and a number of riders overshot a left-hand corner, one man from Androni Giocattoli going down.
But soon it was Nibali’s turn to hit the pavement. As soon as he laid his bike into a wet, left-hand bend, the Sicilian was down, sliding 30 feet across the road. Tofimov went down as well. The pair remounted, their advantage erased.
Wiggins crashes on the San Silvestro descent
Hansen kept pushing up front on the San Silvestro, holding roughly 50 seconds on Sella over the top. Sella crashed again on the descent, however, and the Weening group caught him. The peloton was just behind the chasers heading through the slick, right-hand bend and it was soon just Hansen alone off the front.
That’s when disaster struck for Sky’s Tour de France champion. Wiggins went down in the same spot Sella had trouble and quickly remounted. He gingerly pushed on, appearing to take no risks on the descent as he rode behind his GC rivals.
Lampre took up the pace-making in the reduced peloton and drove hard for Pescara. Cadel Evans (BMC Racing) was in the group, as were second overall Intxausti, Hesjedal, and Nibali.
Pablo Urtusan and Sergio Henao dropped back to Wiggins and paced the 2012 Tour champion. Up ahead, Blanco took over the work in the small GC group, pushing for the line with roughly 30 riders. They were putting time into Sky’s captain ahead of Saturday’s stage 8 time trial — the day Wiggins was expected by many to take pink.
Hansen wasn’t thinking about any of this, however. The race for the overall wasn’t important. The biggest win of his career, the day before his 32nd birthday, was.
“We thought today would be the best day to be in the break,” he said. “This is the biggest win of my life. It’s a very special day. Tomorrow is my birthday, this is a good present for myself. This means a lot to me, I was very emotional when I crossed the line. I never thought this would ever happen.”
Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox led out the sprint and Enrico Battaglin was second. Di Luca was third, leaving no bonus seconds for the top GC men. From then, the clock ticked in wait for Wiggins and the pink jersey.
Wiggins joined a group of roughly 20 riders on the run-in to the finish and crossed the line on the same time of Paolini, more than a minute down on the big GC group. The time loss dropped Wiggins from the top 20 in the overall.