Mathew Hayman has been competing in world championships since 1996 as a junior and raced at the elite level for 15 years at the UCI Road World Championships. On Sunday he will be Australia's road race captain and will look to help Michael Matthews win the rainbow jersey for the first time.
Cyclingnews headed to the Australian team hotel two days before the race to sit down with Hayman and preview the 267.5km course.
Cyclingnews: What's your overall impression of the route?
Mat Hayman: There's always to and fro over how the race is going to play out in the final days before Worlds. Bergen is obviously is a beautiful place but the course itself is both long and hard. The length means that any kind of climb that's thrown into the mix is going to make a difference. For the fans that's excellent because it's going to make for exciting racing and having just watched the U23 race, I was on the edge of my seat.
CN: Is there anything you can learn from watching the race that you couldn't pick up from recon?
MH: What I've seen so far is that groups can come and go and then come back at any moment. From watching the U23 race I was actually trying to see if there was anything I could learn about the course that wasn't apparent from the reconnaissance. So, for example, I was looking how far back people were at certain points and how much sprinting they had to do when coming out of corners before things in the peloton bunch back up. It was a bit hard to tell because they had some rain and there's a good chance that we'll race in the dry. It's all part of the build-up.
CN: Do you think it will come down the last ascent of Salmon Hill?
MH: I think so but we need to have more discussions within the team. I think that the length of the lap and the length of the race gives me the impression that that's how it will unfold. It's a long lap, at around 20 kilometres, and that's good and bad because it gives you recovery between climbs but it also means that it takes time before the race whittles down to the last few guys. Saying that, there seems to be a lot of teams coming here looking to spice things up so the real racing might start quite early.
CN: Do a lot of teams come here with a 'plan A' and a plan to tackle Sagan?
MH: I don't think so. You just have to race and then he wins. Seriously though, you can't get hung up about him or follow him around. You're aware of him like you are all the good riders, whether it's Tom Boonen or Fabian Cancellara.
CN: The descent off Salmon Hill, could that be important?
MH: I've ridden it once and I think in the dry it won't make all that much difference. In terms of what kind of gap you'll need in order to stay away, I think you need to look again to the weather conditions. Today during the U23 race I thought that they were going to get caught because there was a headwind along the waterfront when I rode there. I should hope, too, that the motorbikes don't affect the racing and that they respect the riders and how close they are to the bunch. It's the riders who make the race though. So if you'd have someone like Mark Cavendish here and in his best form, like when he can get over the Poggio, then he could have put his hand up for this.
CN: Looking at the Belgian team, what do you make of their line-up?
MH: I think that they want to race as racers, which will be exciting for the viewers. They're more of your Classics riders. I think it's a Classics course, too, with the longish climb but like I said before I think groups will be coming and going.
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