Hansen has earmarked the eighth stage from Foligno to Arezzo as prime terrain for a breakaway to succeed, which is how he claimed his career first Giro stage triumph in 2013.
“Tomorrow is my goal,” the 35-year-old said outside the team bus on Friday. “It’s very difficult to be in a break, so the start is going to be hard. Lars (Bak) and I, we will try.
“I never have time [to recon stages] so I just look at the [race] book but it looks like it’s going to be a breakaway.”
Hansen was speaking after the seventh stage that team-mate and prolific sprinter Andre Greipel won ahead of Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek-Segafredo) and Sacha Modolo (Lampre-Merida).
The victory was Greipel’s second of the race and the team’s third following Tim Wellens’s successful escape on the first mountaintop finish of the race on Thursday.
Morale was high outside of the bus on Friday where young Italian fans eagerly congregated for paraphernalia.
“Two wins in a row that’s really good, that’s 10 per cent of the stage wins and now it’s getting up there even more,” Hansen said. “Our goal was to get two at least so we’ve done that and the pressure is off so it makes things easier.”
Greipel has found inspiration on Italian soil after misfiring in the sprint stages that featured in the Netherlands where the race started. There, Marcel Kittel (Etixx-QuickStep) was so dominant that Greipel in a rare move between chief rivals said that his compatriot “was on his own level in the sprints”.
“I think Andre had a little bit of a downer,” Hansen said of the repeated remark. “Mentally it was hard for Andre the first few days when Kittel was winning. You’ve got to work on Andre’s confidence. We saw after the first one he had, he felt very different.”
Italy, though, has not proved favourable to Kittel, who suffered a mechanical in the final five kilometres of Friday’s stage and was not in the mix on Stage 5 where Greipel showcased an increasingly powerful versatility to ride away on an uphill drag.
“On the flat stages he needs more of a lead-out but on a stage where it gets kind of difficult we just need to make sure he’s out of trouble, out the front, confident and then he can be by himself and wins,” Hansen said.
“It’s been great with Andre. At the start we had a few difficulties and now we’ve come together, which is good. We’re very happy. I think we were too motivated [in Holland] and it’s not the usual team here so it’s a bit of that.”
The Giro doubles as Hansen’s 14th consecutive Grand Tour.