Hayman admits he'd have happily seen Boonen win Paris-Roubaix
Roubaix (France) (AFP)
Paris-Roubaix winner Mathew Hayman admitted he had been hoping rival Tom Boonen would win the one-day classic race for a record fifth time.
Australian Hayman, 37, pipped Boonen, 35, in a sprint finish to deny the joint-record four-time winner the chance to move one clear of his Belgian countryman Roger De Vlaeminck.
And despite celebrating the greatest win of his career, Hayman said he would have been happy to finish second to Boonen.
"I would have liked to see him win and get the record, I'll be honest," admitted Hayman, who had twice before finished in the top 10 at the 'Hell of the North'.
"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 (at 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."
But reaching the decisive final lap and a half of the outdoor velodrome in Roubaix at the end of a 257.5km trek from Compiegne, near Paris, in a group of five riders left Hayman ready to gamble.
"I went into the velodrome with Tom but the others came back. I still felt everyone was pretty tired.
"I decided to hit out and go for it but I did get worried when I saw the sign for 200-metres.
"It's a long way out, but in the velodrome 200-metres is a long way when you have to come on the high side with tired legs."
Hayman's previous most prestigious victory was gold in the 2006 Commonwealth Games road race, as well as winning the modest Paris-Bourges race in 2011.
- 'Surreal state' -
"I was in a pretty surreal state being in the final because it's not something I'm used to. But I was strangely relaxed with everything I was doing."
Hayman's very participation had been in doubt after he broke his arm in a crash during the Omloop Het Nieuswblad race in late February, after which his team had ruled him out of the entire Spring Classics season.
"The only emotion is total disbelief," said Hayman.
"I had a fracture in my radius of the right arm. The doctors were pretty sure that all my classics were done but I really wanted to get back as quickly as possible.
"I spent a lot of time on the home trainer in own virtual world, spending time in the garage training."
Despite missing out on his historic effort, Boonen was gracious in defeat.
"Mathew was the rider nobody was really looking at," he said about the last few kilometres when the challengers had been whittled down to a final five.
"(Edvald) Boasson Hagen is fast, (Ian) Stannard is strong and Sep (Vanmarcke) is good on the cobblestones.
"So everyone was just in those last 4-5km looking a bit (at each other). There were attacks left and right. After four or five attacks I thought maybe this is the right moment.
"I went myself and when Matt passed me he was really going strong.
"A guy like this really deserves a victory like this for helping people out and being in finals but not getting the win."
Boonen said he was undecided about his future but for three-time former winner Fabian Cancellara, who finished down in 40th and 7min 35sec back after a heavy crash on the cobbles, this was the end.
"One fall doesn't change anything, it's like that, it's a unique race," said the 35-year-old Swiss, who is retiring at the year's end.
"The day started well but it didn't finish the way I wanted it to.
"In the end I'm happy -- you need a lot of luck and today I didn't have any. That's the way it is. Paris-Roubaix really is the 'Hell of the North'."
© 2016 AFP