Mathew Hayman has been racing in ‘national service’ for almost 20 years. He was part of the elite Aussie team back in 2002 when Robbie McEwen won the silver medal in the world championships in Zolder, Belgium. And this October he was in the desert in Qatar helping out Michael Matthews as he finished fourth in the road race behind Peter Sagan, Mark Cavendish and Tom Boonen.
RIDE caught up with Hayman the morning after the day before. He apologised for having “a bit of a morning throat” – the result of dust and sand and wind and effort, rather than any celebratory festivities – but still offered plenty of good insight.
To hear the full interview, click the SoundCloud file below.
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On the break staying away
“Going into the race everybody knew where it was going to split,” said Hayman on Monday 17 October. “Everybody knew the wind direction… when the race is that nervous [and] you’re going fast into a crosswind section, it was gonna always split.
“The question was: how big was each group going to be and which ones would come back together?
“I said in the meeting I thought the first and second group would definitely come back together… then, heading into the circuits, having 40 seconds to a minute, I was still pretty confident that the second group would [come back] because the split happened 170km from the finish and it would take a lot to keep that group away.”
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On Michael Matthews (fourth place)
“You’ve got three former world champions on the podium; three of the best riders in the world in different ways…
“Brad McGee made the point straight after the race, and it’s pretty valid, that Michael went for the win. He wasn’t coming around that last 300 metres trying to follow someone’s wheel and get a medal.
“He put himself in the right spot and when he hit out he was going [well] – he had open road to try and win a world title.”
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Making the front group: how difficult is it?
“There was 25 guys in the front and probably the second and third groups were full of guys who could physically be there as well. That’s a bit of positioning and I must say: Michael did a great job, not having ridden [the Tour of] Qatar.
“A lot of those guys who made the front group have ridden Qatar on a number of occasion and the full crosswind – unless you’ve raced in Holland or you ride [in] Qatar… it’s almost an art to itself.
“It’s almost like a different style of racing – and there’s some rules.
“We went over it in the team meeting, some of the ideas.
“Obviously Michael has ridden in crosswinds before but not something quite like that. He has some great support from the other guys, in particular Zak [Dempster] and Steel [von Hoff]. They got him into position going into that corner and he almost had to do no work.
“From there he showed his class and he was able to stay in the front.
“Everybody knows you’ve got to be at the front and it’s all about timing and a bit of bike handling.
“It’s often the punchy kind of sprinter, the Classics riders who have got the power, who are able to make those moves at the right point.
“You’ve got to judge it to perfection… If you peak 100 metres before the corner, then you might be in the third group. It’s really about just waiting to get the right run and being in the right spot right in the corner.”
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(Be sure to listen to the full interview if you want to hear Hayman’s full appraisal. And don’t be shy to offer some comments on RIDE’s SoundCloud page if you have any questions/suggestions for other interviews.)