Matthew Hayman ready for Paris-Roubaix defence

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    Even though he knows and cherishes the outcome, Australian cyclist Mathew Hayman still squirms with nerves as he watches footage of last year’s Paris-Roubaix.

    After 14 years of frustration and bitter disappointment, the 38-year-old became only the second Australian to win the cycling monument known as the Hell Of The North.

    Hayman was already a widely-respected rider for his years of yeoman service as a domestique.

    His upset Paris-Roubaix title, just weeks after he had fractured an arm in a race crash, is one of the greatest moments in Australian cycling history.

    It was the one race he has always wanted to win and, as he prepares for his title defence this Sunday, Hayman is still coming to terms with the enormity of what he did.

    A few days ago, as he watched a replay of the final kilometres in last year’s race, Hayman was torn between tingling pride and gut-wrenching emotion.

    No one knows better than Hayman how much can go wrong in the Queen Of The Classics.

    He wryly noted that Belgian legend Tom Boonen, who has won Paris-Roubaix four times and will retire after Sunday, probably does not view his triumphs the same way.

    Boonen also was runner-up last year to Hayman.

    “I’m not sure Tom Boonen ever looks at his four wins and thinks ‘lucky I didn’t puncture there’,” Hayman told AAP.

    “There are these uber-confident people and let’s put me in the realist category, not a pessimist.

    “That being said … I will definitely build myself up between now and Sunday.”

    It is been a massive 12 months for Hayman and his wife Kym – on January 24, she gave birth to twins Noah and Elodie.

    They also have a five-year-old son, Harper.

    He is in awe of Kym, who is looking after their family in Belgium while Hayman races.

    “She’s an absolute legend,” he said.

    “She’s breastfeeding twins by herself at night.

    “I have to watch my P’s and Q’s sometimes – I will be saying ‘I was watching this TV show the other night’ and then I just fade off as she gives me a look.

    “‘Oh, you’ve just been having time to watch TV – out drinking coffee, were you?'”

    Hayman has a had quiet build-up to Sunday, but no one is more familiar with the Paris-Roubaix cobbles.

    He will also lead a powerful Orica-Scott team featuring compatriot Luke Durbridge, an emerging Paris-Roubaix challenger.

    Hayman has welcomed Durbridge’s rise, saying it takes the pressure off him.

    “If there’s any race that throws up a different winner, it’s Roubaix,” Hayman said.

    “Last year, I ignited that fire in a fair few riders – the thought of ‘well if Hayman can do it, I can as well’.

    “Somebody like Luke Durbridge, I definitely think he took things away from that and he’s stepped it up this year.”

    © AAP 2018

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