37-year-old Mathew Hayman delivers a stunning Paris-Roubaix victory, outsprinting Tom Boonen and Ian Stannard in the velodrome

Mathew Hayman of Orica-GreenEdge outsprinted Tom Boonen (Etixx – Quick-Step) and Ian Stannard (Sky) to win Sunday’s 114th edition of Paris-Roubaix.

Off the front of the race for several hours after jumping into an early breakaway move, the 37-year-old Australian – who turns 38 in less than two weeks – still had enough left in the tank to deliver the victory after 257.5 kilometers.

A big crash split the peloton not long before the Arenberg Trench. Fabian Cancellara (Trek – Segafredo), riding in his final Paris-Roubaix, Peter Sagan (Tinkoff), and Niki Terpstra (Etixx – Quick-Step) were among those stuck behind, and Cancellara and Terpstra saw their ambitions dashed completely when they crashed on Mons-en-Pévèle.

Boonen, Stannard, Sep Vanmarcke (LottoNL – Jumbo), and Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data) were among those who found themselves on the right side of the split. They caught the breakers, but Hayman managed to hang on and stay in the mix, surviving an attack-filled final 20km to take the win in the Roubaix velodrome.

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The first hour saw several short-lived breakaway attempts, but it wasn’t until just after kilometer 70 that a group managed to get a significant gap up the road. Hayman was in among the 16 breakers – a number that dwindled over time as the group lost riders here and there on the bumpy terrain – along with Sylvain Chavanel (Direct Energie), Imanol Erviti (Movistar), and others.

The escapees had a gap of around three minutes when a crash blew the peloton to pieces with just over 115 kilometers left to race, not long before the challenging cobbles of the Arenberg Trench. Sagan, Cancellara, and several other big names were caught out, but Etixx – Quick-Step, LottoNL – Jumbo, and Sky had multiple riders in a group that now had a gap on the rest of the bunch. Tony Martin (Etixx – Quick-Step) set the pace, solidifying the gap to those behind and also closing down much of the advantage of the breakers up the road, even as Sky’s firepower in the selection took a hit when Luke Rowe and Gianni Moscon went down in one crash and then Salvatore Puccio hit the deck in another.

Boonen’s group ultimately caught the breakaway, forming a strong lead group with Cancellara and the chasers 40 seconds behind.

Cancellara then took a hard fall on the Mons-en-Pévèle cobbled sector, bringing Terpstra down with him a little under 50km from the finish. Sagan manage to avoid the crash in an impressive showing of bike handling expertise, but with two big engines gone from his group, he was unable to get much closer to bridging the gap. It soon became clear that the win would come from the 10-man escape up the road, paced for several kilometers by Sky’s Luke Rowe.

Vanmarcke attacked the leaders on the five-star-rated Carrefour de l’Arbre. Boonen, Boasson Hagen, and Stannard gave chase together, but Hayman was initially dropped. However, Vanmarcke was never able to open up more than a few hundred meters of an advantage, and after he was reeled back in, Hayman caught back on to make it five riders in the lead with 10 kilometers to go.

Stannard and Vanmarcke tried to jump clear as the kilometers ticked down, but it wasn’t until the final 4km that an attack from Boonen opened any meaningful gap. Hayman bridged to the four-time winner and the pair entered the velodrome together, but neither rider wanted to take it up at the front in the final kilometer, allowing Vanmarcke and then Stannard and Boasson Hagen to close the distance, making for a group of five again to battle for the victory on the outdoor track.

Hayman led the cagey sprint from the final 200 meters with Boonen locked in his wheel, but the Belgian classics legend could not overtake the Australian veteran, who nabbed the victory after nearly six hours on the bike. Boonen settled for second, with Stannard taking third.

“Just pure disbelief, I can’t believe it,” said Hayman, stunned after the victory. “I broke my arm five weeks ago and missed all the racing. I raced a race in Spain last week.

“This is my favorite race, it’s a race I dream of every year. This year I didn’t even dare to dream.”

“Mat really deserves it,” said runner-up Boonen.

“I think he was the rider that no one was looking at in the group. Edvald is fast, Ian is strong, and Sep is smooth over the cobbles. I went when it felt like a good moment [with less than 3km to go], and when Mat passed me, I thought he played it smart.”

Hayman is only the second non-European to win the race across 114 total editions – after fellow Australian Stuart O’Grady took the win in 2007.

“Roubaix is a race that throws up a special winner every few years,” Hayman said. “Every few years, it’s guys like Van Summeren [who won the race in 2011] or O’Grady, they’ve always been up there, in the front, racing well, and if the stars align, like they did for me today, it’s possible.”

Paris-Roubaix results