Perhaps it's Cyclingnews' Australian roots that have swayed our readers, or the fact that Hayman was only six weeks out from a fractured radius when he denied Tom Boonen the outright record for most wins in the 'Hell of the North'.
There is no denying that it was a spectacular edition. Hayman went into the race as an unknown quantity, having broken his collarbone in the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad at the end of February. It was his 15th time in the race, with a top 10 in the 2012 edition as his best result.
Then with Orica-GreenEdge, Hayman slipped into a large early breakaway that went clear well before the first sector of pavé - after about 70km of racing and a massive 180km to go. It seemed like a suicide move, but there were some powerful legs there: Hayman's teammate Magnus Cort; Yarsolav Popovych, competing in his last race; Syvlain Chavanel; Tim Declercq before he went on to be Quickstep's star domestique; and Jelle Wallays.
At the midpoint of the race, a crash in the field split the bunch, putting pre-race favourites Peter Sagan and Fabian Cancellara out the back, while Tom Boonen - chasing his fifth victory - had his team put the hammer down to ensure they couldn't come back.
With 60km or so to go, Boonen's group began to reel in the day's breakaway, and by the time they got to the famous Orchies and Mons-en-Pévèle sectors, the large group started to become whittled down. In the crux moments of the final five-star Carrefour de l'Arbre, Sep Vanmarcke launched a move and was being chased by Boonen, Ian Stannard, Edvald Boasson Hagen, and Hayman.
Everyone had their eyes on Boonen, Vanmarcke, Stannard - Hayman appeared to be the weakest in the group. Vanmarcke attacked twice but was brought back by Boasson Hagen, and it was still five coming into the penultimate cobbled sector.
Stannard tried to get away, but this time Boonen chased him down with Vanmarcke. Boonen made an attack that Hayman closed down, pinning the Belgian to the front as they entered the velodrome. Vanmarcke caught on, and as the trio - joined at the last by Stannard - rounded the final bend, Hayman took to the front with Vanmarcke boxing Boonen in.
The Australian went for it from the front and Boonen had no answer - the underdog of the elite leading group had done it!
With only two professional victories on his palmares, Hayman added the most coveted one-day race trophy in the sport of cycling to his shelf. This incredible story won the hearts of Cyclingnews readers with 58.4 per cent of the votes over Peter Sagan's victory in 2018.
In the consolation round, Fabian Cancellara's dominant performance of 2010 topped Boonen's record solo move with 53.2 per cent of the votes.
Watch the video below to relive Hayman's incredible 2016 win.
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