Should Adam Hansen safely arrive on the Champs-Élysées in three weeks’ time, his twelfth Grand Tour in succession will surely have been his most uncomfortable.
Around 50km out from Sunday’s stage finish in Zelande, Hansen crashed on a wet and windy Dutch motorway, dislocating his shoulder. This was the same shoulder that he dislocated in the line of duty at the Ster ZLM Toer last month, an injury so severe he was forced to abandon the race. No such thoughts for Hansen this time, who will equal Marino Lejaretta’s record of finishing thirteen consecutive Grand Tours if he finishes 2015 with another Giro, Tour, and Vuelta under his belt. He took to Twitter after his off to share his determination to keep on keeping on, stating “I eat pain for breakfast. Bring it on!”
As the peloton played a prolonged game of ‘Simon says’ with Christian Prudhomme (“Race director says neutralised, race director says stop. Start! No wait, I didn’t say “Race director says start!”) it looked for a while as if Hansen had been involved in one of the two heavy crashes the caused all the confusion. The unlucky Lotto-Soudal rider turned out to be fellow Antipodean Greg Henderson, and Hansen survived the stage to fight another day.
Another pointedly painful day it will be, too, with seven sectors of cobbles ably waiting to cause maximum discomfort to sore shoulder sockets. There are testing times ahead for Hansen, but this evening at least, he can luxuriate in the honour of being today’s top banana, just for getting through the day.