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85th Giro d'Italia (GT)
Italy, May 11-June 2, 2002
Mathew Hayman interview - Making hay while the sun shines
By Anthony Tan
Is anyone getting the feeling that there's a lot of Aussies in pro road cycling teams at the moment? Almost to the point of feeling claustrophobic by their presence?
Well, it's not quite that bad - so long as you're an Aussie too. I am, and to quote the words of Big Kev, the well-padded Aussie entrepreneur, "I'm excited!"
At the start of the Giro, there were four from the land down under: Mathew Hayman, Cadel Evans, and fastmen Robbie McEwen and Graeme Brown.
Well "Brownie" missed the time limit on stage six, but not before showing that he's unafraid to duke it out with the big time sprinters, placing second on stage one and fourth on stage four.
And Robbie not only showed he enjoys 70km/h tussles of the two-wheeled variety with Super Mario, he showed he can vinca la battaglia con Cipo - twice in fact. However yesterday it was exit stage right McEwen - Robbie's off to prepare himself for the TDF.
As for Cadel Evans, you'd be hard pressed to argue that he isn't causing a stir in Italia. Luckily for Dr Georgio Squnzi at Mapei, it's for all the right reasons. Cadel is their newly appointed GC man (along with Andrea Noé) - as in overnight appointment, and he's doing a great job so far: Evans has now managed to sneak into the top ten, and would possibly be in the top five if he wasn't working so hard for Garzelli in the first nine stages. Not to worry though, the Dolomiti await, and Cadel will soon be in his element (see Cadel's latest diary entry).
Mathew Hayman hasn't done anything that spectacular - then again, he wasn't supposed to. His orders are to look after Boogerd; however, if his fearless leader falters, Matt will be stirring the pot along with Cadel.
Should the latter situation arise, expect an unlikely attack - or ten. The 24 year-old hard-man from Australia's capital, Canberra, is of the Classics rider mould, and Rabobank know this. They've been grooming him for five years, this year being the sixth. The first three were spent in the fiercely competitive Rabobank development squad, where the semi-strong go out the back door faster than the start of 1.3 criterium, and the super-strong make it to the finish… just. And if you manage to make the front group after more than 150 days of racing, then it's the same serving again for another two years.
An unlikely attack was how Hayman won his first race. He attacked after four kilometres in last year's Challenge Mallorca, and stayed away for 177 kilometres - by himself. Hayman then had the honour of having riders such as Michael Boogerd, Erik Dekker and Marc Wauters work for him as he impressively defended his yellow jersey all the way to Palmanova. The boys from Kelme tried to break him, but they breed 'em tough in Canberra - Tonka tough.
It's likely that Matt's dry sense of humour can be attributed to his typically Australian demeanour. And just like all those other bloody Aussies in the peloton at the moment, it appears to be a symptom of "you can take Matt Hayman out of Australia, but you can't take the Aussie out of Matt."
Cyclingnews: How do you feel your season has gone so far this year?
Mathew Hayman: Good and bad, I have the feeling that I am stronger and riding better than the last two years, but that has not translated into results for one reason or another.
CN: What are your team's goals for the Giro d'Italia?
MH: Boogerd will be our protected rider; I think that he is going to go for the GC, but if it isn't going his way then he can always win stages. He's a good classics rider. The rest of the team are riders that like to be in breaks.
CN: How important is the Giro to you?
MH: This is my first Giro and my first three-week tour. I don't know what to expect - I am sure that it is going to be hard. I feel at my age and being a third year pro, it is important for my development as a rider.
CN: What are your personal goals for the Giro - are there any stages in particular you would like to win?
MH: Who wouldn't want to win a stage? I don't think that I (or anybody) can be picky about winning stages. If I were to win a stage you wouldn't get a smile off my face for a few years.
CN: Who will be your directeur-sportif for the Giro?
MH: Theo de Rooy
CN: Do you know who your room-mate will be for the Giro - is it the same for all races?
MH: I don't know who I will be rooming with, and I'm not sure whether the team changes the riders around or not in the longer tours. It is a long time for two guys to share a room, and although all the guys in the team are good friends, I think after three weeks I will be happy to be home.
CN: What do you do to relax during a race as big as the Giro d'Italia?
MH: I write some emails to people at home and for my web site, other than that I read books, especially if what's on TV is in a language other than Dutch or English.
CN: What are your favourite foods to eat during the Giro?
MH: Pasta - and where better to go to get pasta than Italy! I don't know what they do there, but their pasta is always a cut above the rest. Believe me you don't do a French race for the food.
CN: Are you superstitious? - Do you have or wear a good-luck charm to bring you success?
MH: No, good legs normally do that.
CN: Will you be riding the Tour de France or the Vuelta after the Giro?
MH: No, I think that I will be sleeping after the Giro. Rabobank is only doing the Giro and the Tour this year and places in the Tour de France team are limited. I will be happy if I can get through this one and hope to be riding the Tour in a few years time.
CN: What are your objectives for the rest of the 2002 season?
MH: The classics were my main goal this year, then the Giro. After the Giro I will probably do some smaller races and then rest while the Tour starts. After that there are a whole load of races; I would like to ride the Worlds in Zolder as well.