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Hayman surprises with Paris-Roubaix victory

Australian out-sprints four-time winner Tom Boonen on the Roubaix velodrome.

Sunday was Matthew Hayman’s 15th Paris-Roubaix finish and the biggest win of his career, as the 37-year-old Australian from Orica-GreenEdge beat Tom Boonen in a the velodrome sprint to take Sunday’s 114th Hell of the North. It was a thrilling contest that saw the two favourites come to grief and the Belgian hero Boonen (Etixx-QuickStep) just miss out on become the outright Paris-Roubaix win record holder.

It took a long time for a breakaway to stick, as the speed was 45-km/h in the early hours. Finally, 16-riders slipped away and hit the first section of cobbles, Troisville at the 98.5-km mark, with a minute’s lead. One of the fugitives was Trek’s 36-year-old Ukrainian Yaroslav Popovych–third place in the 2003 Giro d’Italia–riding in his last professional race. The next few sections whittled down the break.

It was on the three-star, 2.5-km Quérénaing-Maing sector with 124-km to go that one of the day’s main dramas developed. Etixx-QuickStep’s Guillaume van Keirsbulck drove the peloton and created a split into which his Germany teammate Tony Martin, riding his first Hell of the North, drove a wedge. Boonen, four time winner, benefited from the split. Behind were favourites Fabian Cancellara (Switzerland/Trek-Segafredo) and Peter Sagan (Slovakia/Tinkoff).

Soon the infamous five-star Trouée d’Arenberg section appeared. The Boonen group came out of the Trench 1:27 behind the breakaway and 1:23 ahead of the Cancellara/Sagan group. Canadian Antoine Duchesne (Direct Energie) was in the Cancellara/Sagan outfit.

The Boonen group edged closer to the break and Sagan did plenty of work to get closer to the Etixx gang. In between them was another chase centred around Sep Vanmarcke (Belgium/LottoNL-Jumbo), which made the junction with Etixx with 83-km to go. Vanmarcke’s LottoNL-Jumbo teammates took over the workload from the Etixx boys.

On the Hornaing section, Hayman, one of breakaways, bolted but was soon brought back. Meanwhile, Sky’s three representatives in the Boonen group took their turn at the front.

The next five-star section was three kilometres in length: Mons-en-Pévèle with 53-km remaining. Before the race chattered along its cobbles, the Boonen group linked with the breakaway to create a 25-rider platoon working against only fifteen-men in the Cancellara-Sagan chase. The gap was 45-seconds heading into Mons-en-Pévèle.

Just after Vanmarcke and Ian Stannard (Great Britain/Sky) attacked off the front, Cancellara crashed and Sagan did very well to avoid him.

Boonen and a handful of others bridged to Vanmarcke and Stannard while Sagan and Cancellara’s dreams looked dashed. Surely, with 40-km and the last five-star section of Le Carrefour de l’Arbre to come, the winner would come from the Boonen group.

Boonen attacked before Le Carrefour de l’Arbre but couldn’t escape the attentions of Vanmarcke. Stannard also attacked before the Carrefour on the Camphin-en-Pévèle, shattering the group. Hayman, Vanmarcke, Boonen and Evald Boasson Hagen (Norway/Dimension Data) latched onto the big, rangy Brit.

With 18-km, Le Carrefour de l’Arbre and three other sections of cobbles to go, the five had 15-seconds on the next group. Immediately in the Carrefour, with the fans shouting in his ears, Vanmarcke pushed on ahead and had a 10-second lead coming out the other side. However, the quintet regrouped with 12-km remaining.

The cycling world scooted to the edge of its seat.

On the penultimate section of Hem, Vanmarcke tried again to no avail. Stannard and Hayman took turns leaping up the road on the pavement leading to the last Roubaix patch, but they too couldn’t keep gaps. The skirmishing continued.

Hayman and Boonen pulled away on Roubaix. Hayman led the duo into the velodrome while the crowd went bonkers. Boasson Hagen, Vanmarcke and Stannard grabbed them on the boards just after the bell had rung. It looked like Boonen had the edge leading to the line but Hayman broke his heart by taking a famous victory.

Hayman is the first Australian since Stuart O’Grady in 2007 to hoist the cobble trophy.

Duchesne was top Canadian at 58th.

The next Spring Classic is the WorldTour Amstel Gold Race on April 17.

2016 Paris-Roubaix
1) Matthew Hayman (Australia/Orica-GreenEdge) 5:51:53
2) Tom Boonen (Belgium/Etixx-QuickStep) s.t.
3) Ian Stannard (Great Britain/Sky) s.t.
58) Antoine Duchesne (Canada/Direct Energie) +14:23
111) Hugo Houle (Canada/AG2R) +18:30