• Adam Hansen on the attack during Stage 16 (AAP) (EPA)Source: EPA
Australian Adam Hansen animated Stage 16 from Bourg-de-Péage to Gap as he broke away from a reduced chase group less than 50km from the finish line.
Cycling Central

21 Jul 2015 - 10:23 AM  UPDATED 21 Jul 2015 - 11:40 AM

Soon after the start of the stage, 29 riders escaped the peloton, then 12 of them left the others behind. Hansen’s Lotto-Soudal team-mate, Thomas De Gendt, was one of the men in the front group.

Hansen rode in the second group. More riders were dropped leaving 12 to chase down the bunch further ahead.

The two groups melted together with 95km to go. As expected, the peloton didn’t chase and the leaders got almost 20 minutes advantage.

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With 50km left to race there was no cohesion in the front group anymore and several riders tried to get away. Hansen went solo with 45km to go.

About 10km further down the road, Katusha’s Marco Haller joined the Australian. The duo started the ascent of the Col de Manse with about 50 seconds' advantage.  

Unfortunately the advantage wasn’t enough. Hansen and Haller were caught by the riders behind. Rubén Plaza (Lampre-Merida) attacked with the winning move and went on to take the stage. He was followed by a charging Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) who was unable to reduce the gap.

“It’s our goal to win stages, so we wanted to try that again today,” said Hansen. “It took a while before I and 10 others joined the first group. We had to chase for about 100km because the speed was so high. Luckily some did an extra effort to close the gap.”

Hansen has made headlines while attempting to complete his 12th consecutive grand tour, albeit with a dislocated shoulder after he crashed in the weather affected Stage 2 from Utrecht to Neeltje Jans.

“It was the intention to bring Thomas De Gendt into the finale in the best possible position,” said Hansen of the tactical reasoning behind last night’s solo effort.

“I had to respond to attacks, but because we were with so many I decided to attack to reduce the group and hoped Thomas could move along.

“Unfortunately only one other rider joined me, so it was hard to cover more than 40km. Because of my shoulder injury it’s hard to sprint, so if I would have gone to the finish with some others I wouldn’t have won anyway.”

De Gendt completed the stage one minute behind Plaza in eighth. Hansen finished 18th, about four minutes after the winner.

“In the past the stage to Gap always was a stage for escapees. So today you needed to be in the break if you wanted to win or at least set a good result,” said De Gendt after the stage.

“On the Col de Manse the group fell apart; Adam Hansen had already given it a try by then, I could follow the better riders, but with the descent still to come I knew I wasn’t going to take any risks to follow Sagan. I didn’t want to crash again.”

Sagan, arguably the best technical rider in the field, flew down the descent and finished the day with his 11th top-five result of the Tour.

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