The fourth stage began an hour earlier than scheduled due to a second consecutive day of temperatures in excess of 40℃, but some, after hours in the saddle, protested that the precaution was inadequate.
Hansen, in his CPA role, has repeatedly coordinated with Tour Down Under race organisers to see Extreme Weather Protocol implemented at the request of the bunch, but took offence today when he said he was criticised by peers.
“I had mixed reactions from riders about the heat today,” he said in a personal statement published on Twitter.
“Yes, there were many riders who wanted to stop the race. But there were also other riders who wanted to race. Even one Spanish rider who I asked if it was too hot said, if it’s too hot for some people, tell them not to start their season at the TDU.
“But what I really don’t appreciate after the last climb a rider yelling at me saying everyone wanted to stop. Screaming at me and saying I am the only one who wants to race in this heat.”
The Australian continued saying he doesn’t get paid for the delegate role and asked the field competing in Adelaide, South Australia to “be more considerate”.
Stage winner Peter Sagan (Bora-hansgrohe) was among those that reported feeling ill during the 128.2km race from Norwood to Uraidla.
“It was really hot and when we came to the bottom of the last climb it was not about pain in the legs or something, it was a very strange feeling, like, headache all day and after, I don’t know, I didn’t realise we were already in the finish.”
Nathan Haas (Katusha-Alpecin) called an end to his race title bid in conditions that he believed the peloton shouldn’t have competed in.
“You can shorten stages or start them earlier but if you're out there in temperatures that are six to 10 degrees more than your body temperature is supposed to be … it's just not a good thing,” he told Cyclingnews.
"Hats off to the guys who can suffer more than me but I didn't actually know I was in a bike race in the end."
Haas wasn’t unanimous in his assessment and some riders did, even after the hot stage, collect extra kilometres riding back to the official event hotel in Adelaide.
Hansen’s Lotto Soudal teammate Andre Greipel, who triumphed in stage one, has been less competitive in the heat, but not openly critical of race conditions.
Similarly, Elia Viviani (Quick-Step), speaking after his victory on stage three, which was shortened 26km because of a 47℃ forecast, stressed the need to take proper precautions.
“When we do the intermediate sprint, you do one effort and you are at the limit. The point … is refresh yourself as much as possible and … try to do only one effort you have in the legs in the final,” the Italian said.