Mat Hayman, winner of the 2016 Paris-Roubaix, has written an open letter, published on his Mitchelton-Scott team's website, saying that he will retire after the 2019 Tour Down Under in January after 19 years as a pro rider.
The 40-year-old Australian told Cyclingnews at the beginning of the 2018 season that retirement was on his mind, and that he'd told his wife that, if he did another year, "she should shoot me".
Retiring soon after the 2019 season has begun, therefore, seems like a fair compromise.
"Increasingly the other all-consuming constant in my life, my family, has been battling for my attention and they now need to be my priority," Hayman wrote.
"To be an athlete at this level you have to be self-centred, selfish, driven, hungry (literally and figuratively) and spend most of your life tired. I look forward to freshening up and giving back to my biggest fans, the fans who don’t watch me race, couldn't care less about my results, Harper, Noah and Elodie," he wrote, referring to his children.
"Kym, my wife, has always been there for me behind the scenes, and the longevity of my career can be attributed to her support of me and our family."
Hayman admitted that he was likely to be best remembered for his 2016 Roubaix win – an event he's ridden 17 times, finding success on his 15th attempt at a race that he felt at times "was just tormenting me".
Hayman turned professional in 2000 with the Dutch Rabobank team – which has today morphed into LottoNL-Jumbo – winning the Sachsen-Tour International in 2005.
He then joined what was the new Team Sky in 2010, where he rode for four seasons, during which time he won the Paris-Bourges one-day race in 2011, ahead of his compatriot Baden Cooke.
Only one more victory was to follow – at Roubaix – but, in 2014, Hayman joined what was then the Orica GreenEdge team and is now Mitchelton-Scott, and he gave a heartfelt thank you to the owner of the team, Gerry Ryan, for giving Australia a top-level pro team to call their own, which has also just won its first Grand Tour with Simon Yates' win at the Vuelta a España.
"I never dreamed of riding for an Australian team," wrote Hayman. "It was talked about when I first turned professional, but I didn't dream it would ever happen during my career. Either I stayed around too long, or Gerry is able to dream bigger than most. I thank you on behalf of the Australian cycling community."
Appropriately, Hayman's last race is set to be next season's Tour Down Under, held in and around Adelaide, South Australia, in January 2019.
Mat Hayman's open letter on his plans for retirement:
The time has come for me to make a very difficult decision, one that I wrestled with for months, mainly out of fear of what my life would be like without being a professional athlete.
I have long forgotten what it's like to not have a race program. Cycling has defined me for so long, but increasingly the other all-consuming constant in my life, my family, has been battling for my attention and they now need to be my priority.
I feel I have been fortunate to have ridden for some of the biggest teams, in both budget and heart in the peloton. I have ridden with some of the most talented riders, and been surrounded by staff who have a passion for the sport. I have looked forward to leaving for the next race for the last 19 years and I have enjoyed far too many hours on far too many team buses.
There are too many people who need my thanks, who I am forever grateful to for their help in many different facets of my career. Naming them would not only take too long, but would also mean I would mistakenly omit someone. You know who you are and I thank you for your support and sharing in my passion for this sport, together we have been through many highs and lows. Thank you.
But, having said that, there is one person, or family, that needs to be mentioned. This man and his generosity have changed the sport of cycling in Australia. Gerry Ryan and the Ryan family have made it normal for there to be a team that Australians can call their own on the world stage. But more than that, I think his generosity to the sport has made it a fact that there is a pathway for any young Australian boy or girl who dreams of riding and winning the biggest races in the world, not only in this team but across the sport.
I never dreamed of riding for an Australian team. It was talked about when I first turned professional, but I didn't dream it would ever happen during my career. Either I stayed around too long, or Gerry is able to dream bigger than most. I thank you on behalf of the Australian cycling community.
I have won a few races here and there, been a part of teams that have won many more, but I am sure I will be remembered for one race in particular and I could not think of a better race to have my name associated with.
I fell in love with Roubaix early in my career and it has at times felt that the race was just tormenting me. Seventeen times I raced from Compiègne to Roubaix and every single time it was an amazing day, but in 2016 I lifted a (surprisingly heavy) cobble above my head. It was the single proudest moment in my sporting career, a culmination of all the trying, learning and never quitting. Always keep riding.
To be an athlete at this level you have to be self centred, selfish, driven, hungry (literally and figuratively) and spend most of your life tired. I look forward to freshening up and giving back to my biggest fans, the fans who don’t watch me race, couldn't care less about my results, Harper, Noah and Elodie. Kym, my wife, has always been there for me behind the scenes, and the longevity of my career can be attributed to her support of me and our family. If she's taught me anything in all our years together, it's to leave before the party goes bad.
So with that, I will leave this party. My last race is due to be Tour Down Under 2019.
- Mathew Hayman
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