Adam Hansen's Giro d'Italia diary: Climbing Blockhaus and the beautiful Giro
By Adam Hansen, Lotto Soudal , 16 May 2017
Enjoying the Blockhaus climb (KT/Tim De Waele/Corbis via Getty)

Blockhaus and the big crash

It was my first time riding up Blockhaus on Sunday and it wasn’t easy - but I thought it would be a lot harder. It was steep, but I think I was a bit psyched out by it before the stage. We rode hard until our jobs were done then cruised up to the finish. I was riding with Robert Kišerlovski [Katusha-Alpecin] and Rui Costa [UAE Team Emirates], and we chatted up the rest of the way, enjoying the view. 

I was in the group when the crash happened but I was on the right-hand side and it happened on the left. I went through with no problem, and after I sat up a few kilometres later, I saw Adam Yates come past with a few team-mates. Ages after that I saw Geraint Thomas go past and he didn’t look so good, with blood dripping from his elbow and knee.

He did a solid ride to the top and that was very impressive. There was headwind and a few switchbacks so it would have been difficult to deal with by himself. I felt sorry for him - he was looking really good and would have been up there with the best in the final.

Geraint Thomas after his crash on Stage 9 (Tim de Waele/Corbis via Getty)

The rules are that there has to be a motorbike between every group. When you get to the base of a climb like that, the lead motorbikes have to stop to let us through - it’s a crucial part of the race when the bunch is splitting. They have to control the traffic, so it wasn’t just a police motorbike stopping for no reason. He had a job to go back to.

I’m a bit on the fence as to whose fault it was. OK, if the bike wasn’t there, none of it would have happened, but there’s a lot of times in races when motorbikes are parked on the side of the road and we pass without a problem. 

There are always obstacles, or wide roads narrowing, and riders should be pointing them out. Maybe they did but you can’t see any rider pointing it out on the video and some guys paid for that. It was a domino effect with the road so packed.

I think the riders could have avoided it if they wanted to, it’s just a shame it happened then. It really affected the GC and some guys paid dearly. Maybe if a rider had just put their elbow out it could have been avoided.

What I have noticed at this race is there’s been a lot of TV bikes especially in front of the peloton, and I’ve heard they are often right in front of the breakaway too - and that does make it a bit unfair.

If it’s fair for everyone, OK. Look at Thomas’s situation on Blockhaus - he had no motorbike the whole way up, and that’s unfair for him. 

A rest day selfie (Photo: Adam Hansen)

Comparing the Grand Tours

The Giro is a beautiful race. It’s very passionate, the fans are always great and know a lot about cycling. The Tour’s good because it’s big but it’s more of a tourist race; a lot of people are there just because it’s the Tour de France. In some senses the Giro feels like a more authentic bike race. The media attention is less intense so it’s more about racing.

Two stages ago [Stage 8, Molfetta to Peschici] was the most beautiful stage I’ve ever done. Riding along the coast, the little beaches, a few climbs - it was really spectacular. I marked it in the Giro book because I’d like to come back one day to have a look. 

I love the Vuelta too. You’re mentally drained at the end of the season but it’s more relaxed and always good weather. The stages start later so it’s relaxed in the morning.

The three Grand Tours are perfectly positioned in the calendar. The Giro gets you prepared for the Tour, which is full-on, stressful, pressure from the sponsors, pressure for results.

After the Tour you’re a bit brain-dead, you go to the Vuelta and just enjoy it and it’s good racing. If all three were the same I wouldn’t be doing all these Grand Tours. They’re all a bit different, and complement each other. 

The all-important coffee stop (Photo: Adam Hansen)

Rest day and next stages

We had a nice ride and a beautiful coffee stop on the rest day. We rode for an hour and 15 minutes with a 30-minute coffee stop. Lars Bak and Maxime Monfort went to check out the TT course with the sports directors.

Looking ahead, I won’t be shaving my head before Stage 11. Maybe I’ll shave my face - I want to try and look a bit better on the podium this year!

I feel like I’m getting better and my form is coming along. I normally improve in the second and third week - although I might be getting cold feet about going for the win on Stage 11.

It’s going to be much harder than it looks on the profile, and a lot of people are going to be racing. Some of the guys reckon it will be the hardest stage of this Giro.

When the profile is really difficult, teams will sit up and ride their own pace. But when it’s not super difficult and everyone holds on, then it becomes hard.

You can do a lot of damage on that stage if a breakaway doesn’t go and teams aren’t happy with the situation. It could actually be a nightmare. I just hope that I’m having a good day …

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