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Surprising the pre-race favorites, Mathew Hayman (Orica-GreenEdge) became the second Australian to win Paris-Roubaix Sunday, taking out the French Monument in a five-up sprint.
Hayman, a former track rider, lead out the sprint in the Roubaix velodrome and was able to hold off Tom Boonen (Etixx-QuickStep), Ian Stannard (Sky), Sep Vanmarcke (LottoNL-Jumbo) and Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data) to take the biggest win of his career.
The win denied Boonen’s bid to win a fifth Paris-Roubaix, which would have seen him break the record of four Roubaix titles he shares with Belgian Roger De Vlaeminck.
Ten days short of his 38th birthday, Hayman rode in the day’s main breakaway, a 16-strong group which took 75km to form after a fast and aggressive start. An elite chase group bridged to the remnants of that breakaway with roughly 63km to go as the frenetic pace and the tough cobblestone sectors served to whittle down the field.
The decisive split came some 20km from the finish when Stannard came to the front on the Camphin-en-Pevele sector of cobbles, with only Boonen, Vamarcke, Hayman and Boasson Hagen able to follow. Hayman was dropped on the following sector of cobbles – the five-star Carrefour de l’Arbre – when Stannard cut him off on a corner, but the Australian battled on and rejoined the lead with 14.5km to go.
The final kilometres played host to a barrage of attacks, but when the race hit the Roubaix Velodrome, Boonen led them in, followed by Hayman and Vanmarcke. Boasson Hagen and Stannard rejoined in the final lap before the quintet contested the final sprint.
Hayman’s win comes just six weeks after he broke his arm at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad — and in what is his 15th appearance at Paris-Roubaix.
“Just pure disbelief, I can’t believe it,” Hayman said. “I broke my arm five weeks ago and missed all the racing. I raced a race in Spain last week. This is my favourite race, it’s a race I dream of every year. This year I didn’t even dare to dream.”
Earlier in the day the chances of five-star favourites Fabian Cancellara (Trek-Segafredo) and Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) were scuppered when they were caught behind a crash with 115km to go. Cancellara would crash again with 46km remaining, and while Sagan miraculously avoided that crash right in front of him, neither man would be able to rejoin the front of the race.
— Paris-Roubaix (@Paris_Roubaix) April 10, 2016
A decisive mid-race crash
A total of 198 riders took the start in Compiegne, under sunny skies. Because of a tailwind, the race start was delayed by 20 minutes, to avoid the passage of trains at level crossings.
Ahead of them: 257km and 27 “sectors” of cobblestones, counted in reverse order, from 27th to first, just before the velodrome in Roubaix.
It took nearly two hours, and 75 kilometres, of racing for a true breakaway to establish.
Sixteen riders went clear, with the breakaway tackling the first cobbled sector, in Troisvilles (sector 27, 98km into the race) with a 55-second lead over the peloton.
The 16-man group quickly dwindled, however. Michael Morkov (Katusha) punctured, and later, Yannick Martinez (Delko Marseille) was dropped after his chain snapped, bringing the number down to 14 men in the lead.
In the group: Sylvain Chavanel (Direct Energie), Mathew Hayman and Magnus Cort Nielsen (Orica Greenedge), Jelle Wallays (Lotto Soudal), Yaroslav Popovych (Trek-Segafredo), Johan Le Bon (FDJ), Marko Kump (Lampre-Merida), Tim Declercq (Topsort Vlaanderen), Salvatore Puccio (Team Sky), Reinardt Janse Van Rensburg (Dimension Data), Frederick Backaert (Wanty Groupe Gobert), Maxime Daniel (AG2R-La Mondiale), Borut Bozic (Cofidis), and Imanol Erviti (Movistar),
They led the main peloton by 1:40 at the sector of Vertain, after 120km of racing. Jelle Wallays (Lotto Soudal) flatted, leaving 13 riders in the lead group.
With 126km to go — the halfway point in kilometres, if not cobblestone sections — the 13 riders held a two-minute advantage.
A crash in the middle of the peloton on sector 20 (Monchaux-sur-Ecaillon) with 116km remaining saw several riders on the ground.
Pre-race favorites Peter Sagan (Tinkoff), Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) and Fabian Cancellara (Trek-Segafredo) were held up by the crash, losing contact with the head of the race. Vanmarcke, Boonen, Stannard, and Boasson Hagen all made the split.
At the front of the bunch, Etixx-QuickStep’s Tony Martin upped the pace for Boonen, however the Belgian team had also suffered the consequences of the split, as Niki Terpstra and Zdenek Stybar were also stuck back in the Cancellara-Sagan group.
In addition to Martin, Boonen also had teammates Iljo Keisse and Guillaume Van Keirsbulck with him in the first chase group.
LottoNL-Jumbo had six men in the move: Vanmarcke, Maarten Wynants, Maarten Tjallingii, Tom van Asbroeck, Robert Wagner, and Mike Teunissen.
The gap from the Boonen-Vanmarcke group to the Cancellara-Sagan-Kristoff group had stretched to one minute, while the 13 leaders opened their advantage over the Boonen group to 3:30.
Before they reached the infamous Arenberg Forest (sector 18), Martin split the front group over the Haveluy cobblestones, with Boonen on his wheel. Seven men went clear: Martin, Boonen, Wagner, Stannard, Boasson Hagen and Luke Durbridge (Orica-GreenEdge). Vanmarcke had a mechanical issue, and missed the move.
The gap was 1:36 from the Boonen group to the main breakaway to the front group. Cancellara and Sagan were 1:15 behind behind the Boonen group. One hundred kilometres remained.
Into the Arenberg Forest
The race heated up across the five-star sector of the Trouée d’Arenberg — the 2.5km long Arenberg Forest. Three distinct groups rode on the cobbles at the same time: Popovych and Puccio rode at the front of the lead group; Boonen rode at the front of his group, followed by Boasson Hagen and Wagner; Cancellara rode at the front of his group, followed by Daniel Oss (BMC), Sagan, and Terpstra.
Once out of the forest, Sagan, without teammates, launched an attack to bridge across, utilizing the draft from riders dropped on the cobbles. Cancellara followed, bringing several riders with him.
Boonen’s seven-rider group was caught by a larger chase group from behind that included Vanmarcke, forming a 16-man second group on the road, 55 seconds behind the breakaway. Sagan and Cancellara were another minute back, with 87km remaining, missing Kristoff, who had punctured.
At the front, Le Bon (FDJ) was dropped by the breakaway. Soon after, Hayman went clear of his breakaway companions on sector 16 (Hornaing).
With 75 km to go, the Australian led the breakaway by 15 seconds. The Boonen-Vanmarcke group sat 55 seconds behind, with the Cancellara-Sagan group, driven by Trek’s Jasper Stuyven, another 30 seconds behind.
Behind Sagan, Terpstra and Stybar sat on as passengers.
The gap between Cancellara-Sagan and Boonen-Varnmarcke was all close as 37 seconds at Sector 14 (Tilloy-Sars-et-Rosières).
Hayman was reeled in by his former breakaway companions as the Boonen-Vanmarcke-Boassen-Hagen group chased 45 seconds behind.
As Boonen’s group caught the breakaway, forming a 20-rider move, Popovych dropped back from the breakaway to wait for Cancellara, who was 51 seconds back.
On sector 12 (Orchies), Boonen accelerated. Behind, Cancellara did the same, with Sagan and Bert De Backer (Giant-Alpecin) on his wheel.
It was up to Sagan and Cancellara to close a 34-second gap with 56kms to go, while four Sky riders Stannard, Puccio, Luke Rowe, and Gianni Moscon drove the pace at the front.
Disaster struck Sky on Sector 11 (Auchy-lez-Orchies-Bersée) with 53km to go. First, Moscon lost traction and slid out, taking down Rowe. Almost immediately after, Puccio wiped out, causing Stannard to lose momentum.
In a matter of moments, three of Sky’s four riders in the first chase group had hit the deck. Rowe and Stannard made their way back on to the Boonen-Vanmarcke group, while, behind, Sagan grew frustrated at De Backer for not pulling through.
At Sector 10, the five-star Mons-en-Pévèle, the gap from the front group to the Sagan-Cancellara chase was 37 seconds with 48km remaining. It was then that disaster struck — Cancellara tangled with Terpstra, sending both riders down hard on the pavé.
Sagan somehow narrowly avoided it, bunnyhopping Cancellara’s rear wheel. Terpstra hit the ground hardest, with several riders landing on top of him.
Cancellara’s chance at a fourth Roubaix victory was over. Sagan pushed on, one minute down with 43km remaining.
At the front were Vanmarcke, Stannard, Erviti, Boonen, Boasson Hagen, Hayman, Rowe, Aleksejs Saramotins and Heinrich Haussler (IAM Cycling), and Marcel Sieberg (Lotto-Soudal). The group had a 1:15 lead over Sagan, and almost three minutes over Cancellara.
Between 40km and 30km to go, the front group split apart and came back together several times, with Boonen, Stannard, and Vanmarcke looking best positioned.
Boonen attacked at 28km to go, with Vanmarcke on his wheel, followed by Stannard.
In Sagan’s chase group: Wynants, Durbirdge, De Backer and Ramon Sinkeldam (Giant-Alpecin), Oliver Naesen (IAM), Adrien Petit (Direct Energie), and Dylan Van Baarle (Cannondale).
At sector 5 (Camphin-en-Pévèle) with 19km to go, Stannard went to the front, followed by Vanmarcke, Boasson Hagen, Hayman, and Boonen.
A five-man bar brawl
As the leaders reached sector 4, the always decisive five-star Carrefour de l’Arbre, Vanmarcke made his move, opening a five-second gap. Stannard took up the chase as Boonen was not quick to react.
“I chose Carrefour de l’Arbre to try,” Vanmarcke said. “I had a gap, but maybe I’m experienced enough to give something extra and hold it.”
Boasson Hagen and Boonen chased, briefly dropping Hayman.
As Vanmarcke reached sector 3 (Gruson), he held a seven-second gap, however all five were back together with 12km remaining, holding a 20-second lead over a small chase group.
Between Boonen, Hayman, Vanmarcke, Boasson Hagen and Stannard, it was impossible to say who might win. For four of them, a Roubaix win would be the biggest win of their career. For Boonen, it would mean history.
With 7km to go, Vanmarcke again accelerated, momentarily putting Stannard into trouble, though the British rider caught back on and quickly counterattacked, forcing Boonen to chase.
At 5km to go, the group was back together. Hayman was next to attack, with Vanmarcke chasing it down. Boasson Hagen countered, again putting Stannard into trouble. It was a five-man bar brawl, with each rider throwing haymakers and the others tilting, but refusing to fall.
Finally, at 3km to go, Boonen launched a vicious attack that opened a bit of daylight. For a moment, it looked as though the Belgian classics star might solo to victory to set the all-time Roubaix record. However Hayman chased him down, and countered.
The two men entered the velodrome with a small gap, however as Boonen began to plot his sprint, the cat-and-mouse tactics allowed Vanmarcke back on, followed by Boasson Hagen and Stannard. The five men would sprint for victory.
Like Cancellara a week earlier at the Tour of Flanders, where he finished second to Sagan, Boonen would also be denied a record that would likely stand for decades.
“Paris-Roubaix is one of very few races where you can do good things from a breakaway,” Hayman said. “I was just trying to take it easy, and save it for the final. I was waiting for the good guys to come, saving energy, just staying out of trouble. When they came, I realized after the first few times that I could stay with them. The hardest section for me was [sector 5] Camphin-en-Pévèle [with 20km remaining]. After that, I knew I was in the final.”
Race note: Seven riders from Paris-Roubaix were hospitalized due to crashes.
• Mitchell Docker (Orica-GreenEdge) suffered facial injuries after a crash in the Arenberg Forest. The teammate of race winner Mathew Hayman had severe craniofacial trauma as well as broken teeth.
• Elia Viviani (Sky) was hit by a motorcycle that rain into him in the Arenberg, and suffered a sternum injury. Sky issued a statement that he has no fractures. “He went to the hospital and the X-rays revealed he has no fractures,” said team doctor Derick Macleod. “He’s got a few bruises and abrasions and he’s a bit sore obviously, but we’re really thankful he’s got no significant injuries.”
• Nelson Oliveira (Movistar) was sent to the hospital with a suspected broken collarbone.
• Niki Terpstra (Etixx-QuickStep) left the race with trauma to his right kneecap.
• Federico Zurlo (Lampre-Merida) was reported to have chest bruising and a finger injury.
• Francisco Ventoso (Movistar) was sent to the hospital with a wound to his left leg. His Movistar team reports that he’s likely to undergo surgery and have stitches put into the cut, which may involve muscle tissue.
• Nikolas Maes (Etixx-QuickStep) was also treated for a knee injury.
— Guy W (@r8uge) April 10, 2016
Mathew Hayman (Orica-GreenEdge): “I would have liked to see Tom win and get the record, I’ll be honest. He’s the king of the race. I followed his career when he was a young rider, being on the podium at such a young age [21 in 2002, his first Paris-Roubaix]. For me it was surreal riding into the velodrome with Tom, whom I have a lot of respect for. I would’ve been happy with second behind Tom.”
Tom Boonen (Etixx-QuickStep): “Trying to win my fifth Roubaix never turned out to be an easy task, and coming here today I had a couple of obstacles. I am proud of myself for making it so far, but looking behind I can see how difficult it was. On the last lap, my plan was to take the lead in the final corner, but I had to wait for 30 metres, because Sep was on my side and there wasn’t any space, so those 30 metres cost me the victory. Our team had a well-defined plan, and that was to make the race as hard as possible. We tried to go in the breakaway, but everyone was chasing us, so then, after the 16 riders got clear, we began to work. Tony Martin did an incredible job today, he kept on going and gave it his all. It was a standard Paris-Roubaix, a crazy race, chaotic, with crashes and flat tires. All five which were in the front had our share of work, and we were all tired. I tried to attack a couple of times, but it was very hard to get away, because everybody knew that I was aiming for my fifth victory. Mathew turned out to be the strongest and deserves to get such a victory after a career of helping people out and not scoring the big wins, so congrats to him for today.”
Ian Stannard (Team Sky): “I’m obviously happy to be on the podium. But it’s also so close, so far. There are still two steps to go, maybe next year. I guess it was slippery out there with the rain yesterday and the sun today. We had four guys in the lead and we crashed. That’s bike racing. Luke told me he was pretty tired. He just committed a lot on the tailwind section leading to Carrefour de l’Arbre and then there were five of us left. Then Sep (Vanmarcke) went and did some hard racing. I felt pretty good then. I wanted to attack to avoid having to sprint against guys like Boonen or Edvald. I tried to attack in the finale. That’s what I’m better at, if you like. I had a little bit of speed left but the cobbles were pretty slippery and you lose a lot of energy on them. But it was good fun to stay at the front. The finale was pretty nervous. Nobody really had the legs. Matt is a great friend and I’m super happy to see him win. For him to outsprint Boonen is pretty impressive. He’s an ex teammate and seeing everything he’s done, I’m really impressed.”
Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data): “It was hard, but good. I was able to stay out of trouble for the most part but the last 10km was really hard, with a lot of attacks. It wasn’t possible to get better than fifth, but it is the best result I have had at Paris-Roubaix so far, so that is good, but obviously you would want more and to get a podium.”
Peter Sagan (Tinkoff): “Everybody before was asking me if I was going to win or not, but this is Paris-Roubaix and you never know what is going to happen. It’s a great race, and really historic, but one that is very hard to win. All of the teams come here and make their own strategies for the race, and today the two favourites were caught behind a crash while other teams had numbers at the front to control things. I was involved in two crashes already before the Arenberg sector, and I was already in the second group there and without any cooperation it was hard to get back. Oscar [Gatto] had a heavy crash and some of the others also came down. It was a crazy day. We were cooperating with Fabian, but after he crashed we lost momentum. When he came down, I jumped and managed to just get over. I was very lucky to not crash. From that point I think the race was over for me.”
Fabian Cancellara (Trek-Segafredo): “Everything started well. Good sleep, good breakfast, Popo in the break so we had a perfect situation, and then suddenly things turned differently. I knew it was going to be hard after the split, but also knew it is never over because Roubaix is a tough race. I just kept fighting. It was my last effort, and I knew that if you give up, then it is really over. I gave up maybe 10 or 15kms after my crash because I knew there it was impossible. I knew to stay up at the front, [to be] careful and really focused for every sector, but if you ride on second position or on last position, you can do nothing against a crash when it comes.”
Marcel Sieberg (Lotto Soudal): “At the start I didn’t have a good feeling, but it got better once we hit the first cobbles. In the beginning of the race it was a hard battle to set up a breakaway. For us it was good that Jelle Wallays rode in front, but unfortunately he got dropped because of a puncture. Eventually I could move up to the head of the race. On the slippery cobbles I managed to avoid crashes. On the sector of Camphin-en-Pévèle, Sky took the initiative, and partly because of the wind, our group split. I have to admit the strongest in the race battled for the win. Together with Erviti, Haussler and Saramotins, I chased them. We got close, up to about 20 seconds, but closing the gap wasn’t possible anymore. We just kept working together to secure our place in top 10. I am really happy with this result in my tenth consecutive Paris-Roubaix.”
Imanol Erviti (Movistar): “It wasn’t a comfortable breakaway by any means. We had to ride fast all the time, the pace was high from very early into the race behind after the crash and Boonen’s attack, they were always close to us, we never had a moment to breathe, and once we got caught, every single cobbled section was a small torture. I took my turns in the break because I wanted to be honest with my group, and I was also interested in that move to stick and go smoothly, rather than running by one attack after another. I probably wasn’t the man who pushed the strongest, but I didn’t want to break the ‘rules’. You’ve got to ride with everything you’ve got. Plus, I was so excited, because things had gone well in Flanders, I thought it was worth it to make the effort. I was keeping the wheel of my group into the section prior to the Carrefour de l’Arbre, but to be honest, I was starting to struggle. The ones in front of me were a bit stronger. I’m happy that Hayman won, Orica rode well, with two men into the early break, Mat into the escape so early. He’s a deserved winner of this race.”
Servais Knaven (Sky team director): “It was a really great performance from the whole team. Having four guys in the first group at 50km to go was brilliant. Then we got our bad luck on one section where three guys crashed and Yogi was standing still at one point. Only Luke managed to come back but that took a lot out of him. He was not able to fight at the very front after that effort so he played the perfect team-mate for Ian into the final 20km. It was a great team effort. It’s really great to see Ian on the podium. It’s his favourite race and I’m really really happy for him.”
Nico Verhoeven (LottoNL-Jumbo team director): “We had a big chance at victory, but what should have happened, didn’t happen. The best scenario would have been if Sep broke away with someone else. The four riders he left on the Carrefour de l’Arbre weren’t strong enough to follow him, but were good enough to keep the gap small. The fourth place isn’t a satisfying one in the end. It’s a poor reward for the team’s performance in the cobblestone classics.”
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