MILAN (VN) — Orica-GreenEdge boss Shayne Bannan never saw a Mathew Hayman like the one he saw win Paris-Roubaix on Sunday in northern France. He says that the 37-year-old Aussie “was in another league” slugging it out against heavyweights like Tom Boonen and Ian Stannard.
Hayman was the only one in the five-man front group from the day’s early escape that went at 85 kilometers into the 255.5-kilometer race. When Stannard accelerated on the Camphin-en-Pévèle sector at 20 kilometers to race, Hayman followed and effectively entered ring for the title fight.
“This fulfills his cycling dream. He should feel a pretty completed person after this,” Bannan told VeloNews off to the side of Roubaix’s velodrome while his star accepted the cobblestone trophy.
“Tactically, in the last 20 kilometers, Mat Hayman was in another league. It was like watching the final round of a heavyweight fight, it was really just the last man standing. They all gave each other the same respect even if Hayman had been away all day.”
Hayman spent 170.5 kilometers away in the escape. First the group numbered 16. Others like Imanol Erviti (Movistar) tried to remain when the favorites bridged, but only Hayman had the staying power. He formed a group of five with Etixx’s Boonen, Sky’s Stannard, Sep Vanmarcke (LottoNL – Jumbo), and Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data).
“He was in the escape, he conserved well, he ate, drank with all the carnage happening behind. He was able to regulate how he was going,” Bannan added.
“It was unexpected, but in saying that, he’s the most expected guy out there in the field. He knows he doesn’t have many years left him. He is so passionate about this race, he lives it and breathes it. He had his day.”
Hayman raced for Rabobank and Sky before joining Australian WorldTour team Orica in 2014. In those 17 years since 2000, he only collected three wins: the Commonwealth Games road race, Paris-Bourges, and Sunday his third, Paris-Roubaix. He spent most of years working for others.
Five weeks ago, Bannan did not even expect Hayman to race Paris-Roubaix. In fact, the team sent out a press release on February 28 titled “Hayman to miss Spring Classics after crash” in the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad that resulted in a fractured right radius bone.
“Five weeks ago, we didn’t even know if he was starting Roubaix. We didn’t make that decision until a couple of weeks ago,” Bannan said.
“His preparation was a little different coming here. He obviously didn’t do the Tour of Flanders last weekend, but he rode a couple of one-day races in Spain. He’s been doing a lot of work on the indoor bike and transferred that out on the road once he had the clearance from the doctor. It was his extra motivation to do more because he wasn’t racing and coming into the race without pressure, but still wanting to do something.”