All five Monument Classics saw first-time winners this season, but none was quite as surprising as April's Paris-Roubaix. It's not hard to see why Cyclingnews readers chose the 'Hell of the North' as the best one-day race of the year.
Across more than a dozen Paris-Roubaix starts, Orica-GreenEdge veteran Mat Hayman had never registered even a top five until this past spring, but that wouldn't stop him from coming out on top in one of the Classics's most iconic venues ahead of one of its marquee stars at the end of a thrilling day of cobbled racing.
Even before the finale, Roubaix unfolded as wildly as ever, with crashes aplenty and aggressive riding forcing splits that saw a number of top stars fall out of contention. Mat Hayman found himself in the early breakaway, but instead of calling it a day following the catch, the veteran hung around to do battle with the select few still at the front of the race as the afternoon wore on. When no one was quite able to get clear of a five-man lead group as the race rolled into Roubaix, it all came down to a sprint in the velodrome. The 36-year-old Australian stunned the cycling world with a high-speed victory over four-time winner Tom Boonen (Etixx-Quick-Step), proving that it's never too late to take a career-defining victory.
That monumental surprise was good enough to put Roubaix in the top spot among one-day races, and by a fair margin. The French Classics notched more than double the votes of either the Tour of Flanders – won by male road rider of the year Peter Sagan – or the men's road race in Rio, where Greg Van Avermaet went from nearly man to gold medalist.
|2||Tour of Flanders||2951|
|3||Men's Olympic road race||2344|
|4||World Championships Men's road race||1881|
|6||Women's Olympic road race||806|
|10||Women's Tour of Flanders||152|