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The decision to omit Adam Hansen from the Lotto-Soudal lineup for the Vuelta a España and thus end his record run of Grand Tour participations has been reversed, with the Australian standing in for an injured Rafel Valls
Lotto-Soudal announced the change on Monday, stating that Valls has broken his hip, is in line for hip surgery and will therefore have to miss both the race and the rest of the season. Hansen comes in instead, thus beginning a remarkable 19th straight Grand Tour.
“The Australian had initially not been selected, but this late change will allow him to go on with his record-breaking run of Grand Tour participations,” said the team. “The sports directors and medical staff hope that his saddle sore will be sufficiently healed, but there is no doubt that Hansen will start his nineteenth Grand Tour in a row with determination.”
Speaking last week, Hansen revealed to Ride that he had not been selected. “I am not thrilled with this decision and it’s hard for me to take,” he said then. “It’s not the way I wanted it to end, but this is the team choice and it’s not in my control. I have to respect what they say.”
He was affected by a bad saddle sore during the Tour de France. His team said last week that it was a key factor in the decision. “There are less than four weeks between the end of the Tour and the start of the Vuelta,” stated sport manager Marc Sergeant. “After less than two weeks the injury is healing, but has not disappeared, so the staff fears the injury might play up again during the Vuelta.
“At the moment Adam hasn’t resumed training yet, so that means the preparation would be really short too. With the sporting goals in mind too, the staff decided not to select him. It’s true that Adam has set a fantastic record, but we knew that would come to an end sooner or later.”
The decision was met with considerable regret on the part of cycling fans. Many had wanted to see Hansen’s record-breaking run continue and made their feelings clear on social media. It is unclear if this played any part in Hansen being called in to replace Valls.
The Australian’s remarkable and unprecedented Grand Tour run began in the 2011 Vuelta a España and he has begun, and finished, every Grand Tour held since then. When he completed the 2015 Vuelta, he went one better than Bernardo Ruiz’s 57-year-old record of riding 12 consecutive Grand Tours. Since then he has continued to extend his run to 18 such races and, later this month, will begin his 19th.