Veteran classics specialist Mathew Hayman has produced a masterful performance for ORICA-GreenEDGE today, sprinting to victory on the iconic velodrome of Paris-Roubaix, one of cycling?s five monuments.
The 37-year-old returned for his 15th attempt at the ?Hell of the North?, a race he has always declared unfinished business with, just five weeks after fracturing his right radius.
After spending the majority of the race in the front group, Hayman used all of his experience to take the victory ahead of four-time previous winner Tom Boonen (Etixx-Quickstep).
?I still can?t believe it,? said Hayman. ?I?ve had enough bad luck in Paris-Roubaix in the last fifteen years. Everything went right today, I was in a good place mentally, I was relaxed and I was trying not to put pressure on myself.?
?With one kilometre to go I was thinking that I would be happy just to be on the podium. I had a feeling that my legs were pretty good and I was happy to ride with Tom (Boonen) until the finish line but then it all came back together for the last lap.
?I?ve been riding some track recently after breaking my arm five weeks ago. My legs were feeling pretty good going into the finishing straight when I started my sprint, I could see Tom?s tyre underneath my arm but I managed to keep going.?
Hayman raced with intelligence throughout the day, part of the early group of over twenty riders that formed the day?s breakaway alongside teammate Magnus Cort. He then positioned himself expertly as the attacks began to spring in the finale.
Using his experience and power, the 2006 Commonwealth Games champion attacked with 200metres to go and stayed clear of the four chasers to become just the second Australian to win the ?Queen of the Classics?.
Sport director Laurenzo Lapage was over the moon with the result and performance of Hayman, a tireless leader and worker for the ORICA-GreenEDGE team.
?What an amazing ride,? said Lapage. ?If there is one guy that you want to win this race it would be Mathew (Hayman). He has been waiting for a long, long time to get the right opportunity and he put in an outstanding performance to get the win.?
?The whole team rode very well throughout the race, we knew that if Mathew could stay up there at the front until the final then he had a good chance but we didn?t expect it to go so perfectly.
?We can enjoy this moment now, it?s a special victory in a special race. Everyone in this team works so hard it?s great when it pays off in a race like Paris-Roubaix?
How it happened:
The sun was shining in Compiegne for the start of the 114th Paris-Roubaix. There had been some rain overnight but it was shaping up to be a dry and dusty day on the cobbles.
The first 40kilometres of racing were extremely fast with numerous breakaways trying to form but the peloton were not letting anything go. Eventually a group of twenty or more riders managed to pull away and gain over 30seconds on the peloton.
The group included representatives from Trek-Segafredo, Cannondale, Tinkoff, FDJ and Mark Cavendish (Dimension-Data). The Cavendish group pushed on ahead and the increased speed of the chase split the peloton into two groups.
Forty riders formed the first chasing group behind the escapees. Ten kilometres later and the Cavendish group had been swallowed by the first peloton and only three riders remained up the road with a slender advantage of 20seconds.
Cort and Hayman of ORICA-GreenEDGE bridged across to the three leaders and were followed by another fifteen riders to form the second breakaway.
After 120kilometres had been covered the Hayman group had a lead of one-minute 28seconds over the chasers. The race was now upon the first cobbled sectors of the day yet the average speed remained high at over 45kph.
After the halfway point of the race the leader?s advantage had grown to three minutes and 40seconds. Tony Martin (Etixx-Quickstep) and three teammates including Tom Boonen, broke clear of the peloton in an attempt to connect with the leaders. Other riders followed Martin, creating three groups on the road.
Entering the iconic Forest of Arenberg sector of cobbles and the gap between the leaders and the Martin group had fallen to a minute and 30seconds. Luke Durbridge had made the split and was in the first chasing group with Martin and Boonen.
The third group on the road contained Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) and Fabian Cancellara (Trek-Segafredo), but ahead and with 80kilometres to go Hayman attacked from the leader?s group and led the race alone for the next ten kilometres.
Another ten kilometres later the Boonen group made contact with breakaway and around fifteen riders forged ahead forming a new group of leaders still including Hayman for ORICA-GreenEDGE.
Behind the leaders the chase group was splitting apart as Cancellara hit a stretch of muddy cobbles and crashed with three or four other riders also in difficulty.
Thirty kilometres remained and the group of Hayman, Boonen and Ian Stannard (Team-Sky) had over a minute on the group of Sagan and Durbridge with the Cancellara group a further minute behind.
Attacks were beginning to form at the head of the race with first Boonen and then Stannard as the group approached the famous Carrefour de l?Arbe section of cobbles. This stretch of pave is where many editions of the race have been decided.
It was Sep Vanmarcke (LottoNl-Jumbo) who finally broke free and gained over fifty metres on the leaders which he held for the following few kilometres before the group came back together with ten kilometres to go.
It was a game of cat and mouse in the final kilometres until Hayman attacked with under three kilometres left taking only Boonen with him. The duo entered the historic Roubaix velodrome with Vanmarcke, Stannard and Edvald Boassen Hagen (Dimension- Data) hot on their heels.
The ringing of the one lap to go bell brought the group together and the tension increased. Hayman attacked in the final 200metres, giving everything that he had left and the Australian held on until the line for a memorable victory.
The next race for ORICA-GreenEDGE is Brabantse Pijl on Wednesday 13th of April.
1. Mathew Hayman (ORICA-GreenEDGE) 5:51:53
2. Tom Boonen (Etixx-Quickstep) ST
3. Ian Stannard (Team-Sky) ST