Matt Hayman won a thrilling Paris-Roubaix after pipping Etixx-Quickstep's Tom Boonen and Team Sky's Ian Stannard to the line in what was one of the best Roubaix races seen in modern day cycling.
But it wasn’t just Boonen’s dreams that were shattered in Northern France today; Fabian Cancellara who raced his last Roubaix crashed with 46km remaining and with it went his hopes of claiming a fourth Roubaix title in what is his last season in the saddle.
Despite the race yo-yoing back and forth from the get-go, it was a group of Boonen, Stannard, Hayman, Sep Vanmarcke, and Edvald Boasson-Hagen which contested the final and most important sprint.
But it was Orica-GreenEdge’s Hayman who stopped Boonen claiming what would have been a record breaking fifth Roubaix crown.
Action was fast and tense from the get-go
Usually a breakaway will be given the freedom to go up the road early doors, but today the peloton had other ideas. In the early stage of the race plenty of riders tried to build a gap, but plenty of them failed as the peloton weren’t allowing a breakaway to get away.
But a group of 15 did manage to get away and they included the likes of Sylvain Chavanel of IAM Cycling and the eventual winner Hayman of Orica.
Normally you see the race come to life just as the riders hit the famous cobbled section of Arenberg Forest; but by this time the script was completely torn up as the peloton was fractured all over the place and that was largely thanks to the impressive Tony Martin.
Martin who was riding for Boonen used his power to completely decimate the field, and ultimately it cost the likes of Peter Sagan and Cancellara a real chance of picking up a victory.
From there it was a game of cat and mouse; Martin’s group was trying to bridge the gap to the head of the race, and riders behind were desperately trying to keep up with Martin’s ferocious pace.
Roubaix truly came alive inside last 50km
As the riders entered the final 50 kilometres, the cobbles really showed why they are feared by the majority of professional cyclists; and it was the big race favourite who felt the force of the cobbles as Cancellara’s bike just slipped from underneath him and sent the Swiss rider tumbling to the floor.
It momentarily caused a bit of shock and hold-up in that chasing group, but it was Sagan’s unbelievable bike-handling skills which prevented the Tinkoff-Saxo man from going down as well.
Up at the head of the race, crashes were happening as well, as Sky’s hopes of winning their first monument were momentarily being dashed as Gianni Moscon, and Luke Rowe went down in quick succession.
But it was a select group of five that went clear entering the final 15km, and the last 15km typified exactly how exciting cycling can be. Vanmarcke attacked first on the Carrefour de L’Arbre but was closed down. Then Boonen tried and was foiled. And so on.
It was a such a spectacle, but it was Hayman, Boonen, and Vanmarcke who entered the Roubaix velodrome first; and after a lap and a half, it was Hayman who denied Boonen a famous victory to claim Australia’s only second ever victory in Roubaix.