Through all the hype in the build-up to Paris-Roubaix, you’d be hard pushed to find much about Orica-GreenEDGE outside of their native Australia. The team from down under lack the Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing) and Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) to hover up the column inches, but they still harbour ambitions of getting into the key moves with new signing Mat Hayman.
Hayman took eighth at the 2012 edition and 10th the previous year. He could have followed that up last season but team tactics meant he had to stick with Ian Stannard. Now in a team where he can play out his own race, Hayman is looking to return to the top 10 at least.
“I’ve been in groups that have gone to the finish and every now and again, Roubaix throws up some strange podiums. It’s not always the traditional guys. I think it could be another year where Tom and Fabian ride away from everyone, but you’ve got to be in it to win it. So hopefully I’ll be there,” Hayman told Cyclingnews.
“We’ve had a bit of a bad run recently here. We haven’t really got the results that I would have liked or the team. It’s easy to say that you’re always unlucky, it’s a bit of a cop out sometimes but it would be nice to get a bit of luck in the next week. It’s a bit demoralising sometimes when you have guys crashing everywhere and not even getting a chance. You don’t mind if you get beaten by faster guys, but to not even get a chance to show yourself is a bit disappointing.”
As with so many this spring, Hayman has had one or two meetings with the Belgian asphalt. He took a tumble at E3 Harelbeke, hurting his calf and, as a precautionary measure, he decided to head home for some rest and recuperation. Hayman came back in action at the Three Days of de Panne, where his teammate Luke Durbridge finished on the podium.
Like fellow Australian Robbie McEwen, Hayman has made his home in Belgium. The cobbles of Flanders have been his training ground for well over a decade now, making him a great road captain as well as a leader during the spring classics. He also speaks fluent Dutch after his 10 seasons spent with Rabobank and is a firm favourite with the local fans. Hayman has ridden all of the cobbled classics at one point in his career, but he has for one in particular, Paris-Roubaix.
“It’s a race that I love and I can’t wait to be back there. Out of all the classics, it’s the one that suits me the best and it’s the one where I’ve had the best results and the one that I’ve had the feeling where it is possible,” said Hayman.
Hayman has been riding for Orica-GreenEDGE this season, after he signed a two-year deal with the team this winter. He moved from the much bigger set-up of team Sky, where he’d spent the previous four seasons. At 35, it could be the final contract of his career but that remains to be seen. Despite a frustrating start to the year, Hayman is happy in his new setting.
A word on Wiggins
During his time at Sky, Hayman often rode in service of his teammate Bradley Wiggins. However, this weekend the two will be facing off against each other at Roubaix. Wiggins has been talking up his desire to perform well on Sunday, but many have remained sceptical about the Briton’s chances on the French pavé. Hayman thinks that Wiggins will have to endure some challenges, but is more than capable of winning Paris-Roubaix.
“Brad’s a phenomenal athlete and a great bike rider. I think we just have to wait and see. It’s a bit of a different approach, he hasn’t really done any of the lead-up races, but if anyone can do it, it’s Brad,” said Hayman. “It’s a nervous race and that’s something he doesn’t like, but the Tour de France was a nervous race and he survived that for three weeks, so why not.”
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