• Adam Hansen (R) and Lotto-Soudal team-mates at the 2017 Santos Tour Down Under. (Kathryn Watt - Watt Shotz Photography)Source: Kathryn Watt - Watt Shotz Photography
Adam Hansen has called for Lotto Soudal to rework its lead-out train in a bid to return Andre Greipel to sprint supremacy at the Tour de France this year.
Sophie Smith

Cycling Central
24 Jan 2017 - 11:03 AM 

The 35-year-old is also keen to win a stage of the race himself as well as extend his record of consecutive Grand Tours run, which currently stands at 16.

Hansen has claimed a stage of the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a España but not cracked the Tour, which he casually raised when outlining his ambitions and race schedule from the Tour Down Under.

“[I’m doing] the three Grand Tours and then maybe a stage win somewhere, the Tour de France would be nice,” he said. “My season is the same every year.”

Hansen has been a staple of Greipel’s renowned lead-out train for many years, typically the 7th from last man that takes over from engines Lars Bak and Tony Gallopin, increasing the pace to the flamme rouge.

It’s that part of the train the Australian believes needs attention to deliver Greipel back to his career best performance of four stage wins, which the German fast man marked at the 2015 Tour.

“Last year, we probably had too many guys for the last kilometre and not enough guys for before. I think that’s why we suffered so much,” Hansen said.

“When you look at Greg Henderson, Jens Debusschere and Jurgen Roelandts, they’re very similar in their roles and if they all want to do the last 400m there is no-one doing [Marcel] Sieberg’s job, or my job, where we need extra help. It does make it a bit more difficult.”

Henderson, who has famously dropped Greipel off to some of his biggest wins, left for the UnitedHealthcare ProContinental squad at the end of last year and while his loss will surely be felt, the team has people ready to fill the slot.

“Of course we’ll miss Greg, but it’s not so bad that we’re missing one of those riders. Maybe we fill in a place for someone to help myself, or Lars Bak and Marcel Sieberg,” Hansen said.

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Greipel won a single stage of the Tour last year, which he entered as the man to beat having been coronated as sprint king of the previous edition. The race in 2016 seldom afforded opportunities for respective sprint teams to assemble their trains, with messy finishes and agile riders able to pick random wheels often prevailing.

“Last year the Tour was very strange, it was very messy and there were not many teams to control,” Hansen reflected. “I think the course did play a major role on how the trains worked out last year. It is getting more technical, more dangerous and this didn’t help either. It was harder for everyone to get organised.”

The Czech Republic-based Hansen opened his WorldTour season as normal at the Tour Down Under working not for previous marquee race starter Greipel but within an opportunistic squad. However, it’s likely to be all-in for Greipel come July.

“At this year’s Tour we will definitely focus on Andre again. We’re going to have a lot broader team and a bit more depth in the lead-out [than] before,” Hansen said.