Adam Hansen mastering the challenge of racing in grand tours

Nancy, France

As Adam Hansen starts the second week of the Tour de France, his ninth three-week race in a row, you could expect the toll to be catching up with him.

But ask the 33-year-old Australian if he feels any fatigue from having raced every grand tour on the calendar since the 2011 Vuelta a Espana, and he just smiles.

Hansen (Lotto-Belisol) says that he has come close to perfecting the challenge of racing in the Giro d’Italia, Tour and Vuelta in the one calendar year.

"I think I have mastered it," Hansen said. "I think I am getting better at it.

"I do have a lot more recovery after the grand tours. It’s been good. So far it’s OK."

Hansen also has the task of racing to help two of his protected riders in the Tour de France.

He is helping German Andre Greipel in the sprints and Belgian Jurgen Van den Broeck in the race for overall honours.

Van den Broeck began Saturday’s 161-kilometre  eighth stage from Tomblaine to Gerardmer, in fifth overall.

For Hansen, who has been with the Belgian Lotto-Belisol team since 2011, balancing his energy output to help Greipel and Van den Broeck is not easy.

"It’s difficult because every day is a work day and we don’t get much rest," he said.

"I try to be as efficient as possible when I’m not doing anything.

"Throughout the stage, I don’t ride in the wind much – but I have to a little because Van den Broeck wants to be at the front.

"So I try to be as efficient as possible and hope for the rest.

"I see how far I can go and then I get rest – like on stage two when it all split up and I went into total recovery mode and rode to the finish easy and didn’t fight for the best position.

"Anything I over do I will pay for it in the final, so I try and not do anything."

Hansen says Van den Broeck, who entered this year’s Tour with a personal best of third overall in the recent Criterium du Dauphine race, is a real contender for a podium place

"He is in the best form … so we hope it is one place better [than his fourth in 2012]," Hansen said, adding that a team leader’s success often filters down to his teammates.

"He is confident, always riding at the front. He is really going for it. We like this,"

Hansen said Van den Broeck is a headstrong rider.

"He is definitely a guy who attacks," he said.

"His strength is in the climbs, so he really tries to take advantage of that."

So how far into each mountain stages does Hansen hope to help the Belgian?

"I hope to get to at least the second last climb," Hansen said.

"In the past I have got over the first mountain passes and I am climbing a bit better.

Hansen says his run of grand tours has helped him with the climbs.

"I know riders say you should never say this, but I am always at my best in the third week and I do get better as the race develops," Hansen said.

"Doing the grand tours has helped a lot and for my confidence. This is one reason why I am climbing better."

This story Adam Hansen mastering the challenge of racing in grand tours first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.