Hayman, The Legend

Column

10 April 2016

It is his favorite race. It is by far his favorite race of the year. In the peloton everybody knows that Mathew Hayman lives for only one race: Paris – Roubaix.
He is in his 17th year of his career and he finished Paris – Roubaix 15 times. One time he finished out of the time limit. But he did finish the race. Because that is what you do. It is out of respect to one of the most beautiful Spring classics.

Since 2000, Hayman is a professional cyclist. In each Paris – Roubaix he participated in, he was mentioned by commentators, people aside the roads and the fans in front of the television. His way to ride in ‘the hell’ was to attack. Sometimes he had some bad luck. A crash, a flat tire, a mechanical problem. Still, he never gave up. He fought for his position until the end of the race. Nevertheless, he was never the leading man in Paris – Roubaix for a team. There was always someone else in the team that was supposed to be ‘the one to look after’. He accepted his role in all those years with gratitude. It made him a loving character in the teams and in the peloton. He was there to help out his teammates, making them comfortable. He brought them back to the front, kept them out of the wind, gave them his last bottle of water. One time he got real close. That was in 2011. He became 8th. He never came as close as this again.

Mathew Hayman Results Paris – Roubaix 2000 – 2015
2000: 65 2001: 49 2002: OTL 2003: 26
2004: – 2005: 78 2006: 23 2007: –
2008: 113 2009: 20 2010: 24 2011: 8
2012: 10 2013: 52 2014: 41 2015: 76

The 10th of April, 2016 changed his life. He will never forget this day. One break away. One chance. One sprint. In Paris – Roubaix there are no second chances. There are favorites for the win, but an outsider has just as much luck. The moment Hayman survived Mons-en-Pévèle, he knew he was in the final. With nine others he went on to the big test: the Carrefour de l’Arbre. On this cobbled road he could stay with Boonen, Vanmarcke, Stannard and Boasson Hagen. They were the five strongest riders of the day. All five were tired. Attack after attack was placed in the final five kilometres by each one of them. Then Hayman took off. Boonen got in his wheel, but it took some time. Together they were riding to the Velodrome of Roubaix. On the course, Vanmarcke and Stannard chased them down. A spectacular sprint followed. Stannard did not have the power anymore, Boonen gave it all, but could not get past Hayman. Hayman won. He threw his arms up. He screamed. He turned his head around. Was he really the best rider in Paris – Roubaix? Did he just beat the Belgium hero Tom Boonen? He got off his bike. He was walking up and down on the grass. He could not believe that he just won his all-time favorite race. He, Mathew, a normal bloke from Australia. Staff from his team were telling him again and again that it was really true. He covered his eyes with his hands. It was true. He was the winner of Paris – Roubaix 2016. He smiled. He gave Tom Boonen a hug, he gave his teammates a hug. It was unbelievable, but true. Hayman, the hero. Hayman, the legend.

Bryn Lennon Hayman Roubaix
© Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

etixx quickstep hayman boonen
© Etixx – Quick Step

Francois Lo Presti (afp) Hayman Roubaix
© Francois Lo Presti/AFP

paris roubaix 2016
© Paris – Roubaix (@Paris_Roubaix)

3c4feb5ea1b821787d49573f0d285d26
© TDW/  TDWsport.com

30027311a580681c90c1cf3bd5332dd3
© TDW / TDWsport.com

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