Paris Roubaix – the Monument, the classic – THE one day race all riders love and fear. 250km with 70km of roman cobblestones. Long, hard, fast, dangerous, luck and skill plus power. Who has it for the greatest one day race of them the all – The Hell of the North!
2016 was an an amazing edition of this ancient classic featuring beautiful weather with no dust and very little mud (more on that later) and a lot of action throughout the race. The cobbles, riders going down, breaks, attacks, counter attacks…. and pre-race favorites Fabian Cancellara (aka Spartacus) and Peter Sagan (aka The Hulk) in a group over a minute behind and clawing their way back when the changing of the guard in cycling literally played out on the road with Cancellara crashing hard on a spot of mud on the crown of the road and Sagan riding straight over him with a monster truck style bunny hop. With Cancellara to help drive the chase Sagan’s chances faded but up front things were very active. Sep Van Mark hit out and a group agroup of 4-5 riders including Ian Stannard, Tom Boonen, Matthew Hayman and others was in pursuit. Punches were traded, attacks were made, gaps were established and the race was in full play with 60-70km to go. Then Stannard bumped Hayman hard in a cobbled corner and Hayman had to back off and lost a big chunk of ground to the eladers and it looked like he was out. Then boom he was back and he was kicking it at the front. Pissed? Feel Good? Ha, both!! As the group mixed it up and maintained their lead the KMs ticked off and the velodrome drew closer. As they group prepared – trying to think of strategy through blurry vision and the feeling of having riding 120 miles on cobbles and wind swept flats – Matty Hayman hit our hard. The Matty Hayman of 16 professional years and 4 pro victories. Tom Boone hit in pursuit, he off 110+ pro victories, four of them at Paris Roubaix tying the all time recrod. Here in his last year f racing he sat poised and looked to be the first ever five tie champion. Except one thing, Matty god damn Hayman. He was having one hell of a good day, later he would say he was “in the zone”. Boonen bridged just outside the velodrome after a huge effort. As they came into the vlodrome for two laptops alone the others were starting to catch as Boonen lead the group in the first of two laps. As the best sprinter on paper and looking for a record setting fifth win here Boone pushed on but held back a bit coming out of the second corner, was overtaken and boxed in on the back stretch and through turns 3 and 4. He came around in the last 50 meters but it was enough to catch a blasting Matty Fooking! Hayman. As he won it appeared he couldn’t believe it. 16 years pro with a motto of “never give quit” he’d been here 15 times, he’d been bumped out of the group by Stannard, he’d made moves and been reeled back in – he was riding 1-1 against Tom fricking Boonen, the Classics legend super star looking for a record setting fifth win. But Matty Hayman was in the zone. Matty Hayman did not quit and an entire career collected itself on this day for one of the peleton’s most loved riders on the single most worshiped one day race. Even Boonen can be heard in this video say it couldn’t happen to a better guy – he deserved it. Amazing story with an amazing reaction from Matt!
Check it out here – great Paris Roubaix footage, crashes, breaks, hard racing and the final amazing shots of Hayman expressing total disbelief and shock after winning. Looks like he’s crying in the thumbnail – he was just closing his eyes to make sure it was real.