When Australian Adam Hansen lines up for the Vuelta a Espana this weekend, he has the chance to add an exclusive result to his palmares.
Riding the three grand tours is indeed something special, something I wanted to do, a goal in itself.
Hansen, who rides for Lotto Belisol, is one of just two riders who will begin their third Grand Tour of the 2012 season.
If the 31-year-old makes it to Madrid, he will be one of about 30 riders who have ever completed the challenging feat of finishing all three Grand Tours in one season, and the only rider in 2012.
“Riding the three grand tours is indeed something special, something I wanted to do, a goal in itself,” said Hansen.
“At the beginning of the year I had the intention to ride the Giro and Tour and it turned out better than expected. Until now I have had a good season and I don’t feel tired yet, so why not? You have to recuperate well, prefer qualitative trainings above quantitative ones and don’t ride too many races in between the grand tours. Also the head has to be clear.”
Hansen will ride the Vuelta in support of team leader Jurgen Van den Broeck.
“I hope to take a chance in certain stages, but a lot of riders have that ambition. Because of the many tough stages the teams of the favourites might much easier let a small group ride away that can battle for the victory.”
The other rider making his third appearance is Spaniard Amets Txurukka from Euskaltel-Euskadi. However Tuxurukka pulled out of the Tour de France after the sixth stage.
Hansen has already clocked 76 race days this season, one of the highest tallies of a professional cyclist this season.
His season started at the Tour Down Under in Adelaide in January. He then made his way to Europe via the Tour of Qatar and Oman in February before racing the Classics, the Giro d'Italia and Tour de France, in amongst other races.
Despite a heavy schedule, the Vuelta will not be his final race for the season as it is likely that he will race both tours in China in October.
Hansen's Lottol Belisol sport director Mario Aerts is the only Belgian rider to have completed the feat, finishing all three Grand Tours in 2007.
“With all the other races that Adam Hansen is taking on this year, he’s looking for the extreme, but he doesn’t have a big problem with being on the way all the time," said Aerts.
"Physically, riding the three grand tours in a row is possible, if you take enough rest in between. Because the first weeks after a grand tour your body is worn out."