• Mathew Hayman hopes to finally make the start line at the Tour de France (Getty) (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
Veteran Mathew Hayman has undergone the rigmarole of Tour de France selection again this year in effort to make a career second appearance and mark a debut ride on the Champs Elysees in Paris.
By
Sophie Smith

Source:
Cycling Central
15 Jun 2016 - 9:20 AM  UPDATED 15 Jun 2016 - 9:21 AM

The 38-year-old is on a long-list for the race that Orica-GreenEdge is set to take an opportunistic squad to next month, with Adam Yates, Simon Gerrans and Michael Matthews among others noted.

Hayman has forged a long career as a dependable domestique but made a demarcation from that when he won Paris-Roubaix earlier this year in his 15th race participation.

The Australian has been a regular fixture at Roubaix but the same cannot be said for the Tour that he still almost winces over when mentioning.

“That’s still a sore point,” Hayman told Cycling Central. “How can you be pro for 18 years, in the best teams in the world, and not have ridden on the Champs Elysees at the end of the Tour?

“I’ve said to my wife, ‘I don’t know why I bother. Why would I go and do altitude and put 100 per cent in?’ But here I am, already saying, yes, I’ll go back to altitude and, yes, I’ll do those races leading up.”

SBS will broadcast all stages of the July 2 - 24 Tour de France.

The Tour was a sweetener for Hayman when he left Team Sky for Orica-GreenEdge in 2014. He made his race debut as a 36-year-old the same year but was forced to abandon during the 10th stage.

“I’d worked pretty hard to be there, maybe too hard in some ways, and I put a lot of pressure on myself. I wanted to be good and I wanted to repay the faith in the team so that was really disappointing,” he recalled.  

Spoils can be exploited from a triumph like Roubaix though Hayman doesn’t view his hard-fought title as currency for an instant ticket to the Tour.

“I’ll try (for selection) but they’ve got to pick the best nine guys to show off the best talents of what the team has, and I understand that,” he said. “Whitey (sports director Matt White) still has to make a decision, has to look at the profile, the form of which riders are going well and work backwards from that.

“I think Matt and the team have been very successful in targeting races, or stages, rather than just sending guys because of who they are. He definitely has a plan, whether it’s a team time trial or a certain rider on a certain stage, and we go all in on those.”

Hayman wasn’t selected for the Tour team last season, instead supporting sprinter Caleb Ewan and 2016 Giro d’Italia runner-up Esteban Chaves at the Vuelta a Espana. He recognises that competing for larger teams over his career (Rabobank, Sky, Orica-GreenEdge) may have impeded his chances of racing at the blue riband event previously.

Australia's Hayman wins a Paris-Roubaix for the ages
Australia's Mathew Hayman turned back the years and dialled up the experience with a gritty and tactically perfect performance to win a pulsating Paris-Roubaix.

“I was definitely not a GC rider and some of the teams I’ve been riding for have been going for GC,” he said. “[But] if you’re a good rider you will find your chances. If you’re good enough in the classics, you come to the front and you don’t need to be told in a meeting that you’re a leader, if you’re there, you’re there.” 

Hayman has competed at the Tour de Yorkshire and the Tour of Luxembourg, which finished last week, since closing out his spring campaign at the Ardennes Classics.

The six-week turnaround from injury that Hayman embarked on to start Paris-Roubaix is indicative of a passion and determination that may yet deliver him again to the Tour and extend the longevity of a career he is not ready to call time on.

 “I only want to do it at one level and that’s be my best,” Hayman said. “I don’t want to half do this sport, it’s too hard to half do. I’ll be honest, when I had the injury it was a bit like, ‘is this what I want to do? Maybe this will be my last year.’

“The times between races are a bit harder and a bit longer, and some are a bit more taxing on me, as far as being away from home,” he continued. “But I think I definitely have to ride again next year.

“I am over the moon with what’s happened but I was already quite satisfied with what I’ve achieved as a rider. I’d still like to finish the Tour and get to the Champs Elysees.

Of course, I’d like to ride the Olympics but I think that’s out of the realm. I think London [2012] was the chance I had to compete there and I didn’t get in the team.”