Hayman returns to Roubaix for title defence, Edmondson gets the call up for debut

Thu 6 Apr 2017

2016 champion Mathew Hayman will return to Paris-Roubaix this weekend to defend his title at the race known at the ‘Hell of the North’.

Whilst Hayman will pin on the number 1 bib in his 16th start at the cobbled-Classic, young Australian ORICA-SCOTT teammate Alexander Edmondson will make his debut at the race following an impressive performance at the Tour of Flanders last weekend. 

Capturing hearts across the world last year with a ‘surprise’ winning performance just six weeks after breaking his arm, Hayman returns to his beloved Paris-Roubaix with a different build up but trying to draw on his experience from last year. And the previous 14.

“It’s been a different build up this year, with a full racing load over the Spring but you could say it’s been equally unconventional,” Hayman explained.

“My wife and I had twins in January so family life is busy and I didn’t race the Australian races or attend the team camps I usually would but my coach and I are happy with my form.

“By the numbers, my results in the Spring so far don’t say a lot but I know the form is there and I hope to be in the mix at the pointy end of the race on Sunday.

“Last year, I didn’t put that pressure on myself and maybe that is something I can take into this weekend. In saying that I am going to try to appreciate the day and enjoy pinning that number one bib on.” 

Sport director Laurenzo Lapage reflected on the changes he has seen in Hayman as he returns for his title defence.

“Mathew is more relaxed than other years, that is a good thing, and you feel that in other races too,” Lapage said. “Winning that big one for him was an important moment in his career, you feel he is a different rider and he is more sure of what he can and what he cannot do.”

“For the team it is so important that he is here. He is a guy you can count on, even when he is not on his best day he will sacrifice for his teammates.

“We have seen in the last weeks he is ready and he will have the support of the team around him which will give him a lot of confidence to go into the race again.”

ORICA-SCOTT start with options alongside Hayman, with an in-form Luke Durbridge cementing his position as a Classics rider this Spring and the return of Belgian Jens Keukeleire who missed Flanders due to sickness.

“From what we saw in the last weeks we have a strong team and that can work to our advantage,” Lapage said about the depth of the ORICA-SCOTT line up. “In these Classics the more numbers you have the better because you have more cards to play in the final.”

“On any day a rider can be on his best, or not on his best, and in this team they are really fair with each other, they have good communication during the race and are honest when they are not on their best days.”

23-year-old Edmondson will attempt his first Paris-Roubaix, getting the call up this week following impressive performances and commitment this spring, particularly at last weekend’s Flanders where he finished 25th on debut.

He is joined by New Zealand’s Sam Bewley, Dane Magnus Cort, Australian Mitch Docker and Slovenian Luka Mezgec as crucial teammates to the ORICA-SCOTT leaders.

“Alex is a guy that we need to give every chance to gain experience in these races because he is a guy for the future,” Lapage said. 

“You saw him at Flanders. There are not many young guys who are that good in positioning themselves and OK some people would not think a lot of 25th place, but after the work he did early, at the age he is, it’s a very promising sign.

“He is a rider I really believe in.”

ORICA-SCOTT at Paris-Rouabix (Sunday, 9 April):

Sam Bewley (NZL, 29)
Magnus Cort (DEN, 24)
Mitch Docker (AUS, 30)
Luke Durbridge (AUS, 25) - 26 on Sunday
Alexander Edmondson (AUS, 23)
Mathew Hayman (AUS, 38)
Jens Keukeleire (BEL, 28)
Luka Mezgec (SLO, 28)