Adam Hansen (Lotto Soudal) claims he was “thrown under the bus” after he fronted protests that led to Friday’s Stage 19 at the Giro d’Italia being shortened.
A mammoth 258km ride from Morbegno to Asti was slashed by 134km following a revolt from disgruntled riders, just a day after they had summitted the imposing Stelvio in freezing conditions.
Hansen took to social media to say the proposal was put forward on Thursday due to the length of the stage, the weather and concerns over immune system suppression.
However, the decision was branded a "shambles" by Bradley Wiggins, who suggested the peloton show the same vigour when campaigning against racism in the sport.
Wiggins also criticised Hansen directly, saying “his argument contradicts the whole affair with Jonathan Vaughters”. EF Pro Cycling boss Vaughters had earlier campaigned for the Giro to be halted due to concerns over the coronavirus, following 11 positive tests across five teams on the first rest day.
But Hansen launched a staunch defence of his actions, saying he was nominated to voice the views of the peloton and had been abandoned by his fellow riders.
Hansen: 'I was thrown under the bus' over rider protest
“I was thrown under the bus a little,” Hansen told Eurosport ahead of Stage 20.
“There’s been tough conditions here, we’ve had a lot of early mornings and long stages, and the riders pretty much requested to have the stage shortened.
“There was a bit of miscommunication with how that was dealt with. When I came to the start line, all the riders were underneath the tent just before the start.
“So I was called in and asked to represent the riders. I know a lot of the attacks [afterwards] came on me, but it was not actually me speaking, it was the voice of the riders.
“Because of the cold rain at the start and given it was such a long stage, we requested if we could reduce the stage. And in the end it wasn’t a problem. The RCS accepted it.”
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Hansen continued: “No one was at the start line. So all the riders agreed to it.
“And when it came out in the media that it wasn’t so good, a lot of the riders stood back and said ‘woah, I wasn’t part of it’.
“But I’m like if you guys wanted to race, be at the start line. But no one was there. Everyone was under the tent requesting we reduce the stage.
“It was not nice from some riders to do that, and some riders went to the media saying they were ready to race, but at the end of the day all the riders were there and they supported the decision.
“When times are tough they’re all there, supporting me to do this. I do it for them and at the end, when things look a little bit bad, they turn around.”
A day of controversy concluded with the Josef Cerny riding clear of a 14-man breakaway to take an unexpected win in Asti.
Highlights: Riders loaded into buses for first 134km, Cerny wins shortened Stage 19