Mat Hayman (Orica-GreenEdge) may have been a most unexpected winner of Paris-Roubaix but both his victory and the race as a whole have been acclaimed by past winners Bernard Hinault, Gilbert Duclos-Lassalle, Marc Madiot and Francesco Moser in the pages of L'Équipe.
Hinault was famously dismissive of Paris-Roubaix prior to his own 1981 victory, and even after that triumph, he has always viewed the Queen of the Classics with a certain detachment. Sunday’s hard-fought contest, however, earned Hinault’s admiration. In particular, the Frenchman had praise for second-placed Tom Boonen and his Etixx-QuickStep team's aggressive race.
"It's been a long time since I'd seen a Paris-Roubaix – or, indeed, any race – with so much movement. The race was magnificent, with an Etixx team that took its responsibilities. 25 years ago, that kind of move used to exist but I hadn't seen it for a long time," Hinault told L'Équipe. "Boonen proved again that he's a warrior but Hayman deserves his win too."
Gilbert Duclos-Lassalle won Paris-Roubaix at the 14th attempt in 1992, and then repeated the feat against the more fancied Franco Ballerini in 1993. Despite the similarities with Hayman's win, his greatest praise, too, was reserved for Boonen, though he was critical of Fabian Cancellara, saying that his crash at Mons en Pevele was an error of judgement.
"Dry weather suits the good rouleurs, the strongmen. I saw Boonen was going well and he emerges with his reputation enhanced from this race," Duclos-Lassalle told L'Équipe. "It was a magnificent Boonen. He's the one who made the race, who laid down the rhythm.
"It's a shame that he got himself blocked in on the last bend before the sprint. An experienced rider committed an error of youth. Exactly like Cancellara. When you've got this weather at Roubaix, you know there are locations where the water or mud stays. You know them, you have to stay vigilant."
Triple winner Francesco Moser praised Hayman's strong and canny riding in the finale, though he noted: "I'm convinced that the Boonen of a few years ago would have won with one hand."
FDJ manager Marc Madiot was without the injured Arnaud Démare in his line-up and he claimed he saw Boonen as the likely winner on the eve of the race, though he expressed admiration for the manner of Hayman's triumph. "Hayman's not a renowned winner but he's a very fine winner, because it was a beautiful race, of great quality," he said.