Mat Hayman's Paris-Roubaix title defence saw the Australian finish with a one against his name but it was eleventh place and not the first place of 2016. The Orica-Scott rider was ensconced in the Tom Boonen group of 15 riders that arrived in the Roubaix velodrome 12 seconds down on winner Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) narrowly missing the top-ten.
Just like last April, Hayman finished ahead of Boonen in the sprint for the final but explained his race was effectively over following the selection over the Mons-en-Pévéle pavé sector.
"I guess everyone decided that the early move was the right place to be. Roubaix always tends to have a fast start. Flanders was a bit unorthodox with the way that the group went so quickly but it just never slowed down all day but that sorts of suits my style of racing," Hayman told Cyclingnews. "I stayed out of most trouble. I had one puncture and Magnus gave me a wheel and got me going very quickly. That was just before we went into that section of Wallers and the Forest of Arenberg. Other than that, I stayed out of trouble and then I missed that move on Mons-en-Pévéle. It was my own fault and then you're always behind the eight ball."
With teammate Jens Keukeleire making the selection through the five star Mons-en-Pévèle sector, he suffered bad luck with a puncture on the shorter Mérignies à Avelin sector having earlier crashed into stinging nettle. A slow wheel change ended his hopes and left Hayman isolated for Orica-Scott who expressed his disappointment to have lost his younger teammate in such circumstances.
"I was just too far behind and it just split. It is a hard section, there's a reason why it's four stars and I know that," he said. "By the time I got back to that group of 15 it had split. Jens had originally been up there but had some sort of problem so I was left in the final with nothing and then I was in the group with Tom who had his hands tied because he had Stybar up the road.
"He's [Jens] been here before and hopefully he would have made that split so I'm sure that he'll be gutted with that. This race can be beautiful, and it can be cruel."
Read more on this article:
- Defending Paris-Roubaix champ's Kangaroo cobbles bike
- Paris-Roubaix: Bad luck rues chances for Belgian outsiders
- Van Avermaet wins Paris-Roubaix
- Boonen calls it a career: 'It was time'
- Paris-Roubaix highlights - Video
Complicating the chase for the Van Avermaet front group was the fact that Boonen, John Degenkolb (Trek-Segafredo) and Dylan Van Baarle (Cannondale-Drapac) had their teammates up the road. However, Hayman was frank in explaining that it was unclear exactly who was where and what the situation was on the road in contract to Boonen's post-race comments.
"A couple of times and then Lotto came to the front, they had five guys, but you could tell that they were all gone. They did a great job trying and hats off to them getting five guys into that group, but they were on their last legs, and you could see that it wasn't going to come back," he reflected. "I didn't feel like it was. Maybe Trek could have helped, but they probably had someone in the front. I don't exactly have all the numbers. It's easy watching on the television, but when you're in the race, you're concentrating on staying on your bike and not exactly who is up front. I knew that there were six guys but the exact make-up I didn't know."
While it took Hayman almost one year to sit down and watch his ride to victory, he was quick to suggest that this was one edition of the race he was keen to see a television replay of.
"It might sound strange, but I'd love to see what actually went on. It's full on and the adrenaline is going and you're trying to keep everything under control and you're on a rollercoaster and you're trying to stay calm and focussed," he said.
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