Hayman to lead ORICA-GreenEDGE in 14th Paris-RoubaixThu 9 Apr 2015
“It’s like trying to do a maximum effort whilst someone is standing there shaking your bike as hard as they possibly can.”
The famous Paris-Roubaix, or ‘Hell of the North’ as it is so rightly nicknamed, will fulfill the dreams of some and shatter those of others this Sunday, courtesy of the 27 cobbled or ‘pavé’ sectors sport director Matt Wilson tries to find the words to describe.
The third of five monuments, also known as the Queen of the Classics, is as unique as a bike race gets with 52.7km of cobblestones before those who make it through complete the 253.3km course on the famous velodrome of Roubaix.
For road captain Matthew Hayman, it’s as good as it gets on the bike.
The 36-year-old, who has twice finished in the top ten (2011 and 2012), will lead ORICA-GreenEDGE in his 14th attempt this weekend, a role hard-earned by so many crucial support responsibilities throughout each season.
“Mat Hayman will be our outright leader on Sunday,” Wilson said. “He is feeling very good this year, it’s one of the better years he has had form wise which is great as he comes into his last couple of opportunities to do this race.”
“Paris-Roubaix is a race that always throws up some surprises. Every few years you get a surprise winner or podium up there.
“It’s one of those years and Mat Hayman is one of those guys that could find himself on the podium.”
In support, Hayman has a mix of experience and youth that will prove critical to his day.
Mitch Docker, Jens Keukeleire and Jens Mouris will each ride their sixth edition of the race, whilst Australian Luke Durbridge (3rd), New Zealand’s Sam Bewley (2nd) and British rider Adam Blythe (2nd) will also benefit from previous rides.
“We have guys who have roles early in the race, through the middle of the race and towards the end of the race,” Wilson explains. “The guys that will help towards the end will be semi-protected in the early stages to make sure they come onto the final sectors in good enough shape to be able to help him.”
“A big part of Paris-Roubaix is just being there when they do have inevitable punctures or problems, to help them back on or to give them a wheel. It is quite a simple role sometimes and if they miss the split it can also be quite a hard and demanding role.
“We have a good team for that. They showed at Flanders they are all going well and riding well together as a team so hopefully we will have a good day.”
Completing the team, Danish neo-pro Magnus Cort will make his Paris-Roubaix debut in his first year riding for the Australian outfit.
“The sectors and the carnage that occurs when you hit them is the biggest eye-opener for a debutant,” Wilson said. “You just don’t expect it.”
“If you have done the Tour of Flanders and racing in Belgium you know the sectors are hard but they are a different thing in Paris-Roubaix.
“They are in much worse condition and the relentlessness of the next sector to come is always there.”
But for all the stress and carnage of the journey, Paris-Roubaix is one race where just crossing the finish line can be a fairytale.
“It’s just such an epic race,” Wilson said. “You are going to have punctures, you are going to have crashes and you are going to have problems.
“You spend a lot of time in your own little world and then you come up to this mythical track at the end of the race that everyone dreams of riding into at one stage or another.”
ORICA-GreenEDGE at the Paris-Roubaix (12 April):