Domestique duties and Classics chances for valued Australian
Matthew Hayman is recognised as one of the world's most capable domestiques and hopes to continue in this role at Team Sky in addition to getting a shot at some of the Spring Classics.
Hayman made the move to Dave Brailsford's squad late last year and lined up in this month's Santos Tour Down Under as one of the key men to drive Team Sky's train in pursuit of wins for sprinters Greg Henderson and Chris Sutton.
Both men took victories at either end of the Down Under week, and predictably it was Hayman organising and instigating a push to the finish during the final kilometres for himself and the six other men in black and blue.
It was a great start to the season for the squad and Hayman, who is a perfect fit for the team on paper and on the road. "These guys have taken a whole different view to cycling, they're trying to do things differently. It's refreshing," said Hayman.
"Not that I had any problems at Rabobank and I could have happily ridden there for a couple more years but it's nice to be somewhere new, meet new people and the commitment we've shown in the leadout is something good.
"Often at Rabobank I was working with Graeme [Brown] and one or two other guys just trying to get him up there with a smaller group. Here, coming into the finish everybody's committed," he said.
Both Team Sky directeur sportif Sean Yates and manager Dave Brailsford have said that the squad is a balanced one, and with the addition of general classification rider Bradley Wiggins it will should possess the firepower to perform in a variety of races.
For the Tour Down Under however, Hayman believes the likes of Ben Swift, Russell Downing and Chris Froome formed a great sprinting crew in a short period. "It's also this group of guys - we might go to other races where there are guys not suited to a bunch sprint but this group seems to be working really well," said the Australian.
"The communication is there - the guys are talking to each other - so that's all the important things. Now it's just the details.
"All we can do is control what we do - we're still learning [as a group] and looking at it every day to see what we can do differently and that's a big part of this team - the analysis - going back and making it second nature," he added.
"For me, Down Under isn't really the aim for the year; I've got some good form here and always do because I'm always excited about riding in Australia," continued Hayman. "Really, for me it's about the Classics, the big ones."
In addition to his role as a domestique for riders such as triple road world champion Oscar Freire, the 31-year-old is a proven performer in the Classics, having supported Juan Antonio Flecha at Rabobank; the Spaniard links up with Hayman at Team Sky and the pair will form part of a one-day race arsenal with Edvald Boasson Hagen and Thomas Lovkvist thrown in the mix.
"Whether that's in a support role again or occasionally getting my own chance, anywhere from the start of March through to the end of April - all those Classics are the ones I'm going for this year," said Hayman. "I've earmarked Gent-Wevelgem and Paris-Roubaix, and hopefully with a good [Antonio] Flecha and [Edvald] Boasson Hagen plus the other guys, we should be able to do something."
While Hayman would obviously love the chance to be a protected rider, the key to his value as a rider is that he knows it's all about the team, which is why he was one of Team Sky's first signings. "I can sprint, do well in the Classics and in a grand tour or a big tour; I often get used up just protecting a leader," he explained.
"There's this whole thing at Sky where the emphasis is on the team and if at any point in those races I'm feeling good then I'll get a chance. If Flecha's on the form in Roubaix that he has been in the last two years then there's not a problem in the world working for him - it's always going to be the team that comes first."
Back to top