By Daniel Benson
After finishing fourth in Gent-Wevelgem, Rabobank's Mathew Hayman is ready to support Juan Antonio Flecha in Paris-Roubaix this Sunday. The Australian, and five-time Roubaix finisher, has worked for Rolf Sørensen, Leon van Bon, Marc Wauters and Flecha since turning professional with Rabobank, and on the eve of his sixth start, he is ready to sacrifice his own chances for those of his team leader.
"I was pleased with how Gent-Wevelgem went. We had four riders in the mix and it was a testament to how we've been riding in the Classics so far. The team has been one of the most aggressive this season. We had fewer riders than Cervélo and we were looking good until had bad luck stuck," Hayman told Cyclingnews.
Both Hayman and teammate Graeme Brown were in the lead group but crashed, with Hayman forced to chase and Brown taken to the hospital. Hayman put the episode down to the bad luck that has plagued the team this spring: "Everyone has their own story of bad luck in races; where they crashed and where they punctured but we seem to flat or fall at just the wrong times. Hopefully that will change this weekend and we can get the result our riding deserves."
Hayman, who will ride reconnaissance on Friday, is ready to serve Flecha, who has finished second and fourth in Roubaix. "We have a pretty tight team and spent a lot of time together but with so many races it's like going into battle each day. We're ready for one last charge, though."
According to Hayman, Flecha is different to any team captain he has ridden for in that the Spaniard rides on pure emotion. "He did an unbelievable ride at Flanders and not many people will have seen that," Hayman said. "He crashed on the descent of the Koppenberg and chased for ages before getting back into the action. That took real character."
The Rabobank team was created in 1996 and despite notable wins in Flanders, Milano-Sanremo and Amstel over the years the Dutch team has failed to win a single Paris-Roubaix. Rolf Sørensen made the top 10 when dueling for the World Cup in 1997 and 1998, while van Bon and Wauters came close, too. "My first leader was Sørensen and then van Bon but I took the most pleasure in riding for Wauters. He was so solid and such a good worker, but every time Roubaix came around he would stand up and ask that everyone unite around him. It was the only time he'd do it and I really enjoyed riding for him," Hayman said.