Orica-GreenEdge rider out-sprints Boonen in breakaway sprint.
Mathew Hayman (Orica-GreenEdge) caused a huge upset by beating Tom Boonen (Etixx-QuickStep) in the sprint in one of the most memorable editions of Paris-Roubaix in recent memory. Hayman looked stunned, and almost unbelieving, by his victory, bursting into tears once he realised what he had achieved.
Ian Stannard (Team Sky) tried to come around from the back of the group but didn’t quite have the legs and finished third. Sep Vanmarcke (LottoNL-Jumbo), who had been the most aggressive in the finale, just missed the podium and finished fourth, with Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data) in fifth.
“I can’t believe it. I broke my arm five weeks ago and I missed all the racing, I raced in Spain last week,” Hayman said. “This is my favourite race. It is the race I dreamed of winning.”
It was Hayman’s 16th appearance at the Hell of the North, previously finishing eighth in 2012, and he was the underdog in an elite five-man group that came to the line. The riders were already part of a select group that did not include pre-race favourites Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) and Fabian Cancellara (Trek-Segafredo). They went clear on the Camphin-en-Pévèl sector after an attack from Stannard distanced much of their group.
The tension ramped up as the cobbled sectors ticked down. Knowing that his chances in a sprint were small, Vanmarcke kicked and made the first serious attack from this small group on the Carrefour de l’Arbe. At first it appeared he had his rivals in trouble, as they scrambled to mount a chase. As they looked to have him pegged, the Belgian kicked again but he was finally brought back after the next sector of cobbles.
Thus ensued a series of attacks and counter attacks, each turning the wick up just a little bit more. It was Hayman and Boonen that entered the velodrome first but a strong chase from Vanmarcke saw him bridge the gap. As the bell tolled, their number had swelled to five again and Hayman wound up the sprint.
It looked like Hayman had gone too early as Boonen sat in his wheel ready to pounce. Stannard tried to go for a long one around the outside but it was too much for him as Hayman and Boonen went head to head. Boonen appeared to get boxed in briefly and was unable to close the gap when he did finally wriggle free, leaving Hayman to take the biggest victory of his career.
Sagan came over the line over two minutes down, just missing out on a top-10 finish. There was no fairy tale for Cancellara, who had crashed earlier and he finished over seven minutes down. To add insult to injury, he hit the deck again in the velodrome while riding around with a Swiss flag.
How it unfolded
After the rollout from sunny Compiegne at 10:50 a.m. countless accelerations came after the official start was given just outside the city centre. Jacopo Guarnieri (Katusha) was the only non-starter.
A first breakaway group of six riders was caught back before Noyon, after 20 kilometres of racing but the speed remained high. Stijn Devolder (Trek-Segafredo) sparked a large and strong breakaway move of 25 riders when exiting Noyon. The group also featured late call up Phil Gaimon (Cannondale) and Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) and a tailwind meant a high-speed start to the race. However, their lead of half a minute was soon neutralized. A few more small breakaway attempts followed but without success. After 67 kilometres of high-speed racing the riders were back together.
Straight away a new group of 16 riders attacked. They reached the first pavé sector (#27) with a lead of a minute, despite the work from Etixx-QuickStep and Bora-Argon.
Team Sky led the peloton over the first pavé sections, keeping the gap under control and more importantly, keeping their riders safe.
After five pavé sectors had distanced some riders, the break held a two-minute lead over the peloton. The riders up front were Sylvain Chavanel (Direct Energie), Matthew Hayman and Magnus Cort Nielsen (Orica-GreenEdge), Tim Declercq (Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise), Frederik Backaert (Wanty-Groupe Gobert), Borut Bozic (Cofidis), Marko Kump (Lampre), Salvatore Puccio (Sky), Johan Le Bon (FDJ), Maxime Daniel (AG2R), Reinardt Janse van Rensburg (Dimension Data), Tour of Flanders star Imanol Erviti (Movistar) and Yaroslav Popovych (Trek-Segafredo), who will retired after today’s race.
The leaders extended their lead up to a maximum of 3:45 at sector 20. Just before that sector there was a crash in the peloton. Etixx-QuickStep reacted by charging forward with Guillaume Van Keirsbulck and Tony Martin. The peloton was split up into multiple groups with Cancellara, Sagan and Terpstra featuring in the peloton that trailed the large group that included big names like Luke Rowe, Ian Stannard, Sep Vanmarcke, Zdenek Stybar, Edvald Boasson Hagen and Tom Boonen.
The gap between the two groups quickly grew to a minute when starting sector 19 from Haveluy to Wallers. The breakaway group was 2:40 ahead. Tony Martin did a huge pull on this sector, dropping most of the riders in the group. Only Boonen, Robert Wagner, Stannard, Boasson Hagen and Luke Durbridge followed, sparking a race within the race.
Forest of Arenberg
Boonen led the group over the long cobbled sector of the famous Trouée Arenberg. Cancellara did the same in the peloton with Daniel Oss (BMC), Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) and Nikki Terpstra (Etixx-QuickStep) and the others on his wheel.
After the Arenberg Forest the break had a lead of 1:15 on the Boonen group. The Vanmarcke and Rowe group was 20 seconds further back. The peloton, with Cancellara and Sagan, was more than a minute behind the Boonen group. An isolated world champion accelerated a couple of times to get the speed up in the peloton but their chances seemed compromised.
Just before starting sector 16 the Boonen group and the chase group with Vanmarcke and Rowe merged to change the race yet again. At that moment the 13 riders in the break had just under a minute on the Boonen group of 19 riders. The peloton was following at nearly two minutes from the leaders. Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo) managed to get the gap down to 35 seconds on the Boonen group when exiting sector 14 at 64 kilometres from the finish. At that moment Popovych sat up in the break to work for Cancellara in the peloton.
After coming off the cobbles of sector 13 from Beuvry to Orchies the early break were caught by the Boonen group. The Sagan-Cancellara peloton was 50 seconds down on the large lead group, as Team Sky tried to put set the pace up front.
Cancellara unleashed his devils on Orchies’ sector 12, with Sagan following swiftly but a little later disaster struck the Sky team on sector 11. One moment they were leading the group with three riders. A few moments later three of their riders were down on the ground. First Moscon and Rowe crashed when coming off the cobbles. Later Puccio missed his corner on the cobbles. Only Stannard remained in front.
A Vanmarcke acceleration brought down the numbers in the front group on the feared cobbles of Mons-en-Pévèle. About 45 seconds further back Cancellara was sitting behind two Giant-Shimano riders when riding through a muddy section on the cobbles. Cancellara’s bike slipped off the crown of the cobbles and the Swiss rider crashed. Sagan somehow managed to get himself and his bike over Cancellara without crashing himself. Terpstra, a Sky rider and several others were less successful and crashed too.
After the chaos the seven remaining leaders had a bonus of one minute on the Sagan group and three minutes on a battered Cancellara. The leaders were Boonen, Erviti, Stannard, Boasson Hagen, Erviti, Vanmarcke, Hayman. On sector 8 Aleksejs Saramotins (IAM Cycling) with Rowe, Sieberg and Heinrich Haussler (IAM Cycling) managed to bridge back up, creating a lead group of ten riders.
At thirty kilometres from the finish the leaders still had a bonus of a minute on the Sagan chase group.
Read more at CyclingNews.com