The Australian cyclist Adam Hansen has completed 17 consecutive Grand Tours (Giro d’Italia, Tour de France and Vuelta a Espana), smashing the previous record of 12, which has stood since 1958. His secret? Building his own kit factory.
From his home in Frýdlant nad Ostravicí in the Czech Republic, Hansen, 36, has installed a 3D printer, seven vacuum pumps and a cutting room. Using a combination of Kevlar, boron and carbon-fiber cloth, along with molds that create casts of his feet, he makes what he claims are the world’s lightest cycling shoes. However, no paying customers have managed to step into a pair yet, but not because of the €2,500 (£2,100) price tag – he just hasn’t found the time to make any more of them.
In a sport influenced by marginal gains, any weight savings are substantial. “It’s about rotational mass,” he said. “A mechanical engineer told me it makes a huge difference.”
As well as developing disc-brake mechanisms and writing logistics software for his Lotto-Soudal cycling team, Hansen also organizes trips to the Himalayas to learn more about the effect of altitude training on red-blood-cell levels.
“What most cyclists are doing isn’t wrong,” he said. “But they’re only just touching it.”
Hansen’s Grand Tour run will end one day, but at least there will be a silver lining when he hangs up his cleats: he might make a pair for us to wear.
Building the kit
- Shoes: Weighing 76g per shoe, they are described on Hansen’s website as the lightest in the world.
- Brakes: Hansen’s designed a quick-release mechanism for the new generation of disc brakes.
- Software: The Lotto-Soudal cycling team and other professionals use Hansen’s logistics software.