Mat Hayman's spring classics campaign is over just as quickly as it started for 2016 with confirmation that the Australian fractured his right-radius in a late crash at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. The Orica-GreenEdge rider is expected to miss four weeks of racing as a result.
"It is one of those things, part of racing, part of our sport, but still always hard to accept. I had spent months training for these races and to have it end like that, so quickly is disappointing to say the least," said Hayman of the injury.
"It is not a complicated fracture, and I am hoping that it will heal quickly and I can be back on the road with the boys as fast as possible."
It was the first time in three years that Orica-GreenEdge had raced the 'opening weekend' with Magnus Cort the team's best finisher at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad in 69th place. With Hayman to miss the classics, greater responsibility will handed to the likes of Jens Keukeleire, Christopher Juul Jensen and Mitch Docker.
"It is a real shame that we will go into the next races without Mat. He was our road captain and someone who is always 100% ready for the Classics. His type of experience you cannot under-estimate," sports director Laurenzo Lapage said.
"When he crashed, he was sitting in the right position as always, but it just goes to show how luck and often bad luck is a deciding factor in these races."
Hayman started his season down under where he was instrumental in Orica-GreenEdge claiming four stages and the overall Tour Down Under victory. With podium finishes at Dwars Door Vlaanderen and Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and top top-ten results at Gent-Wevelgem and Paris-Roubaix, Hayman is a seasoned classics campaigner with his experience invaluable to the young squad Orica-GreenEdge will field across the spring.
"We obviously need to look forward and as I said to the guys today before the race, we need to regroup and someone else will step up to take this role. We have real ambitions for the cobbled races and we will make sure we do our best to chase results we came here for," Lapage added.
While the team missed Hayman in Sunday's Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, debutant Caleb Ewan was the team's best finishers in 15th place at the semi-classic. A top-ten finisher at Paris-Roubaix last year, Keukeleire is likely to take on a greater leadership role across the spring as Orica-GreenEdge aim for its first cobbled classics victory.