Danish rookie Hansen impressing in pro debut

Garmin neo-pro upsets the world champion and holds onto third overall at the Dubai Tour

Photo: Tim De Waele

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DUBAI (VN) — Lasse Norman Hansen came within a fist full of seconds of winning his first pro race in Wednesday’s 9.9-kilometer time trial on the windy streets of Dubai.

The 21-year-old Dane stopped the clock 16 seconds slower than Taylor Phinney (BMC Racing) to take third in an impressive debut at the Dubai Tour.

Hansen (Garmin-Sharp) started in the final wave, beating the likes of world champion Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) and Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing).

“It was a really good start. I absolutely gave everything. To be close to those big guys means a lot,” Hansen told VeloNews before the start of Thursday’s second leg. “I went full-gas. It always makes you mad when you do not win.”

The highly touted Hansen proved he’s got a huge engine with just one ride.

After winning the gold medal in the omnium in the 2012 London Olympic Games, Hansen raced one more season in the under-23 ranks before joining Garmin on a two-year deal. He was a bronze medalist in the U23 world time trial championship last fall.

“I have to be happy with the start, and the GC is not decided yet,” he said. “There is some crosswinds, so we have to be ready to try something. I was happy it was a smaller time trial, because on a longer course, I cannot beat those guys.”

Hansen finished 11th Thursday to defend his position in the overall with two stages remaining. He’ll face a big test Friday when the Dubai Tour heads into the desert for what should be a windy, hilly third stage.

The Dane’s pro debut on the road will be short-lived, as he’ll be back onto the boards for the world track cycling championships in Colombia Feb. 26-March 2. In fact, he said he would balance between track and road cycling at least through the next Summer Olympic Games in 2016 in Brazil.

“I think I will probably always race some track throughout my career. I cannot imagine not racing on the track,” he said. “Garmin offered me the best chance to develop as a rider. I hope someday to be a good classics rider or maybe do well in the one-week stage races.”

Hansen will be back on the road in time for a debut in the spring classics. Already a winner of the Danish semi-classic GP Herning last year, Hansen could be up for a few more surprises before the spring is over.

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