Effects of a victory: what emotions does it conjure?

There’s something special about Paris-Roubaix. It’s almost as though the reverberation of the bikes over rocks shakes us awake and alerts a greater audience about the beauty of cycling. Of course it’s easier to say that in Australia when an Australian racing for an Australian team has won. But never mind the parochialism that has been conjured by Mathew Hayman’s success, that’s just a by-product of a nation actually getting to witness something special.

Australian cycling fans are a savvy lot. There’s enthusiasm for style and attitude and approach more than simply for where a rider is from.

Of course we recognise the efforts from the likes of Boonen, Stannard, Vanmarcke and Boasson Hagen, the riders Hayman had to outsmart once on the velodrome, but allow us a moment to relish a win for one of the good guys.

We give an approving nod to sixth place, last year’s Aussie champion Mr Heinrich Haussler, and recognise that the 2016 edition of Paris-Roubaix has a strong Australian accent.

Hayman rode the race to perfection and he overcame the challenges of his rivals and the setbacks of injury to accomplish something that has put a swagger in the step of those who have followed the sport for years.


Mathew and Harper Hayman before the cobbled stage of the 2014 Tour de France. Photo: Rob Arnold

Mathew and Harper Hayman before the cobbled stage of the 2014 Tour de France.
Photo: Rob Arnold


* * * * *


The day after his win, I spoke with people who know Hayman. Here are some excerpts of interviews and observations about the rider, his racing, his character and his triumph in Roubaix.

We also delve into photo collection of Yuzuru Sunada to find images of Hayman from the 15 times he’s raced Paris-Roubaix.


– By Rob Arnold


If you have something to add about how the win by Mathew Hayman has affected you, please be sure to share your story


Inside the Roubaix velodrome after the 2005 race. Photo: Yuzuru Sunada

Inside the Roubaix velodrome after the 2005 race.
Photo: Yuzuru Sunada


* * * * *


Hayman on his victory

(Find the full interview here…

“It has been a dream.

“It still feels a bit like a dream.

“And I guess you make dreams goals and things like that but definitely this year it was always a bit of a surreal race for me in the way that I felt no pressure at all and I seemed to be in ‘the zone’ that athletes talk about.

“I was just out there having fun and doing something that came naturally.

“I wasn’t planning anything.

“I was thinking and decisions were being made but they were automatic. I was just on autopilot. And I think that’s what I had over the other guys.

“I wasn’t selecting gears.

“I wasn’t thinking about this or that.

“I was just, ‘I’ve been here, I’ve done this race, I’ve missed out a few times…’”


* * * * *


Gerry Ryan

Orica-GreenEdge team owner


What were your emotions after watching what Mathew Hayman did?


“I had a little tear. I was just a little bit stunned. It’s finally happened for him, he threw up the arms and it happened to be in one of the biggest races in the world.

“It couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy.

“You look at how he raced: he used his head before his legs. It was such an intelligent ride. He got to the finish line mentally and physically better than the others, there wasn’t anyone who was going to beat him.

“It’s great for the team and what a fantastic achievement for Australia and Australian cycling. I think everyone’s a winner.

“He was lacking racing but you can’t put an old head on young shoulders. He used every bit of experience to achieve what he did and he’s got that trophy and hopefully when he wakes up this morning and he touches it, he believes that it really is his.

“Cycling has always been a favourite sport of mine. We’ve had more great results and networking in cycling than other sports and it’s a fantastic effort what he’s achieved and we’re all going to ride off his shirt tails in the next day, the next week, the next month, the next year.

“We’ll bring it all to market and it helps with exposure.”


* * * * *


Marcus Hayman

Younger brother

“He doesn’t talk that much about racing to be honest. He just kind of does what he has to do.

“Even when we try to talk to him about racing he doesn’t really get involved or tell too many stories. He occasionally lets something out but he’s not a big one for talking about what he’s going to do in the year to come. He just really likes to let his legs do the talking to be honest.

“I remember when I was young and he went to Europe when he was 18 or 19 and he used to come back and I’d be like, ‘Oh, what was the racing like!?’ and he hardly told me any stories. He’s still a bit like that, where he’s kind of got a double-life, the bike is the bike and when he’s off the bike it’s family and other kinds of conversations that he likes to have. I think it’s mainly because he spends an awful lot of time on that bike and he probably just wants to forget about it a bit.”



* * * * *


Deane Rogers

Former junior world champion and Canberra cyclist

“When we as a family first got into the sport, the Haymans also were out there getting into it at exactly the same time.

“My younger brother Michael and Matt are the same age and they grew up cycling together so I recall being out cycling as kids with ‘Matty’ Hayman and Mick Rogers, two eight-year-olds, bobbing along behind us.

“It was amazing to see, all these years later, the guy is still pedalling his bike at such a top level.”


* * * * *


Shayne Bannan

Manager Orica-GreenEdge

“I prefer not to just talk about his comeback over the last five weeks, I prefer to talk about his history in this race over the last 16 years.

“He lives, he breathes, for Paris-Roubaix.

“Throughout his whole involvement with our team, in the recent editions of Paris-Roubaix – not including this one – every time we would see him on the bus afterwards, he’d sit there in tears about the bad luck… about whatever may have gone wrong. And he’d be really thoroughly disappointed with his contribution as a team-mate and as an individual because his expectations for Paris-Roubaix are so high.

“So to see this victory today is just a testament to the hard work, the tenacity, the really professional approach he brings to Paris-Roubaix.

“It’s such a special feeling…

“I’ve got to admit, Rob – you’ve witnessed a lot of Australians winning races and so have I – but I’ve got say this has been the most special.”


* * * * *


Rob Arnold

Publisher RIDE Media

“I watched the final lap through fingers. I had my hands up over my face to try and muffle any of the gibberish I was saying to myself while standing in front of the TV so that it didn’t actually become audible.

“I’d watched the race with my 10-year-old until the 50km to go mark and then he said, ‘I’m too tired. I’ve got to go to bed. Wake me when Mathew wins.’

“When it did happen, I was elated. He won. He really did win. For years I’ve expected to see him rewarded but when it happened it was so cool it was almost unreal: it’s a sequence I’ve expected to unfold but when it does it seems so much sweeter – especially considering who the other riders around him were.

“Upstairs my family slept but downstairs I was dancing around the room punching the air.”


* * * * *


Koen de Kort

Rider with Giant-Alpecin

“When I saw Mathew early on in the race for the first time this Classics season I said to him: ‘Great to see you again Matty!’

“We’ve raced Roubaix together many times as we obviously did in many other races.

“I really respect Hayman a lot and although I was personally very disappointed crossing the finish line after having been chasing the front of the race due to being caught behind that crash early on still, it put a smile on my face to hear Hayman won.

“First of all, it means I still don’t have to give up hoping I can win that race one year as Mat is a few years older than me but more importantly, the victory has gone to a loyal helper and a great guy.”


* * * * *


Gracie Elvin

Rider with Orica-AIS

“Apart from the pure happiness I felt for Mat – we were yelling and cheering in our own race car after a race in Holland – I had a massive surge of motivation and self assurance that I can do something big like that too if I keep chipping away like he has over the years.

“I would do anything for a women’s edition of Paris-Roubaix.”


* * * * *


2005: 78th in Paris-Roubaix. Photo: Yuzuru Sunada

2005: 78th in Paris-Roubaix.
Photo: Yuzuru Sunada


2008: last place in the race – 113th. Photo: Yuzuru Sunada

2008: last place in the race – 113th.
Photo: Yuzuru Sunada


2011: 10th place. Photo: Yuzuru Sunada

2011: 10th place.
Photo: Yuzuru Sunada


2014: with Shayne Bannan after his first Roubaix with Orica-GreenEdge. Photo: Yuzuru Sunada

2014: with Shayne Bannan after his first Roubaix with Orica-GreenEdge.
Photo: Yuzuru Sunada



Author: rob@ride

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