[et_pb_section bb_built=”1″ admin_label=”section”][et_pb_row admin_label=”row” make_fullwidth=”off” use_custom_width=”off” width_unit=”on” use_custom_gutter=”off” allow_player_pause=”off” parallax=”off” parallax_method=”on” make_equal=”off”][et_pb_column type=”1_4″][et_pb_text admin_label=”Text” background_layout=”light” text_orientation=”left” use_border_color=”off” border_color=”#ffffff” border_style=”solid”] We speak with the defending champion of Paris-Roubaix moments before a reconnaissance ride a couple of days before the 2017 edition. Mathew Hayman talks to Rob Arnold about his special-issue Scott Foil bike, what he expects from the race on Sunday and how Tom Boonen is the obvious favourite for the Queen of the Classics this year. [/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][et_pb_column type=”3_4″][et_pb_text admin_label=”Text” background_layout=”light” text_orientation=”left” use_border_color=”off” border_color=”#ffffff” border_style=”solid”]

Click the SoundCloud file (below) to listen to the interview with Mathew Hayman.


Mathew Hayman Q&A before Roubaix


RIDE: We’ll keep it real quick because I think you’re probably pretty distracted at the moment. You’re on the way to do some riding, are you? On the cobbles?

Mathew Hayman: “Yeah, look it’s a yearly thing: we always go and recon the cobbles of ‘Roubaix’ before we race on them…

“There’s not much difference really with the bikes from Flanders but it is a bit of a chance to make sure you go over all the bikes and equipment – and get a bit of a feel for them.

“I mean, Roubaix, we only really race on once a year where in Flanders we’re racing around there every weekend. So, for the young guys too, it’s good to get the parcours back in their head… just to see it a few days before the race.”


Talk to me a bit about equipment. Last year you told me you didn’t really care, you just took the bike they gave you and off you went. Did you do anything special this time around?

“Ah, Scott has done something special. I’ve got a pretty special bike to ride on Sunday. They’ve done a great job and given me something a little bit different, something a bit personal to me. I’m not one to be too flamboyant but I think it fits in nicely with the rest of the team as well.

“But it is a Foil, the same as I rode last year and I’ll be riding pretty much the same set-up with the same wheels.

“We’ve got, pretty much, the same conditions so far. It’s going to be a pretty warm day. There hasn’t been much rain the last few weeks, a good chance of a tailwind, so I don’t see me changing much about the bike. But after today I’ll have a quick chat with the mechanics again but I think it’ll be roughly the same set-up.”

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“[The bike] was released yesterday afternoon so it is ‘out there’ and I’ll probably do a few more pictures today, I’d say. Get it out on the cobbles so it’s nice that they went to the trouble to do that. And it’s pretty special to be back at this race a year on.”


Last year, it was all pretty unfamiliar: the idea of racing because you’d been off the bike for five weeks. Do you sort of wish you’d replicated that again, not with the broken arm of course but do you think that you could have come in fresher or do you like that you’ve had some racing in advance of The Big One?

“I mean, last year was far from ideal. The only thing ideal about last year was the result. And so this is a better way to do it. I do love all the other races as well, I mean I’m a racer. I like being in the team. I like racing. So it was still – as much as the result at the end of the Classics was great, I did miss out on all the other racing.

“It’s been a bit of a different build up but… there’s been other tests this year with having a slower start to the year, not doing ‘Down Under’ and missing the training camps with the family… ah, ‘expansion’.”


If we weren’t so pushed for time, you know I’d talk to you a lot about the family. Congratulations on the twins.



Are you sort of adjusting to having a lot more people in the house…?

“Yeah. I’m pretty lucky that Kym is so strong and she does such a great job at home. The first big test was going to Paris-Nice and being away for a week and leaving someone at home with new-born twins.

“I can’t thank her enough. She’s been really supportive of me focussing on these races at this time even though there’s something pretty special going on at home.

“That’s been good and, I guess, from Paris-Nice I felt like I was back on a playing field, where I should be, and it was a bit tough before then. But after Paris-Nice I felt like I was back at the level I should be.

“The results have left me a bit wanting in the other races but we’ve stepped up as a team. And Luke [Durbridge] has been riding out of his skin. And to see Jens [Keukeleire] get on the podium in Gent-Wevelgem – a breakthrough performance for him.

“We can’t be disappointed with the results that the team has got so far.”


We were doing a podcast earlier today and we went through the line-up for Orica-Scott for Sunday. It’s a formidable showing. But we sort of nominated three guys: you, Jens and Luke who would be the obvious leaders. But really everyone could have a crack… what’s going to be the approach for Sunday?

“That’s a bit of a conundrum that Quickstep find themselves in often and they are able to sort that out and I think we can start to look to them as ways of sorting out that issue of having more than one guy that’s able to ride the finals.

“It’s a race filled with carnage and mishap and it’s about getting through the first 200km unscathed or in the best possible condition.

“We haven’t talked the details of the tactics but I’m hoping that I’ll have a role where I can get to that point of the race and then we need to see what kind of situation everybody is in.

“If the legs and the form aren’t there, then I’m all too happy to help a team-mate try and realise at dream that came true for me.”


Tell me the difference going in having it won it now, versus that perpetual quest to try and get on the podium. Do you feel more relieved or what’s the sensation like for you as defending champion?

“There’s a few things at play there. I do feel that I don’t have to prove it anymore…

“I put down the fact that I was relaxed – and not kind of pushing for a result as I had in the past – as one of the biggest influences on the win; be able to just not put that pressure on myself as I had in other years.

“Hopefully I’ll be relaxed in the fact that I’ve won it and [I’ll] kind of try and enjoy the day. That being said, I guess for a lot of riders you see that they struggle with that first win. I do know it’s possible and it’s not out of the realms of a possibility, it’s been done and it can be repeated.

“If you look at [Gilbert] Duclos-Lassalle (the winner in 1992 and 1993) history has shown that you can win it at 37, 38 years old. It is possible.

“But I’m a realist in many ways and it took me 15 years to get there once and, as special as last year was, I think it would pretty special to do it twice in a row.”


Last year you apologised to Tom [Boonen] for sort of spoiling his party. Is he the favourite [this year]? Who do you think is the main man for Sunday?

“Yeah, I think [he is the favourite].

“The form that I’ve seen, actually all this year – and maybe the results haven’t shown it – but I’ve seen a pretty good Tom Boonen. I think [his] team is one of the best for this race, they always put together a good team and they know how to race it.

“And even though he’s not going to feel any pressure. It is a momentous occasion, that he’s bowing and everything that’s happened these last few weeks… but it’s not going to affect him at all. And I don’t think he’s the kind of guy who is going to play safe just because it’s his last Roubaix. I think he’s going to go out firing.

“I think you’ll be hard pressed to find anybody that’s going to give it to him so he’s going to have to fight for it.”


– Interview by Rob Arnold