Two-time world champion Rebecca Wiasak thinks Mathew Hayman’s Paris Roubaix victory was “so historic” he’ll be taking home “The Oppy” to put alongside his cobblestone.
But the man who conquered the “Hell of the North” in April isn’t as confident and feels dual world champion Caroline Buchanan and dual Paralympic gold medallist Carol Cooke are the two to beat.
Canberra’s Hayman broke his arm five weeks before the Paris Roubaix, which is one of the most famous and gruelling one-day races in the world, and defied the odds to get to the start let alone win it.
The now 38-year-old had dedicated his career to trying to win the 260-kilometre race, which only a handful of people have ridden more times than he has.
His victory has him in the running for the Oppy, elite male road cyclist and also the people’s choice award.
Wiasak’s second world title in the individual pursuit this year has her in contention for female track athlete of the year and by extension the major gong, the Sir Hubert Opperman Medal, as Australia’s best-performed cyclist.
Other Canberrans in the mix are Sue Powell (para-cycling female), Caroline Buchanan (mountain bike female, people’s choice), Chloe Hosking (road female, people’s choice) and Michael Matthews (road male, people’s choice).
But for Wiasak, there was one clear favourite for Cycling Australia’s awards ceremony on Friday night.
“You would think that Mat would win the overall [award], that win was so historic this year, Paris Roubaix,” she said.
“You’d think he was going to win it given that there weren’t any performances at the Olympics that were significant.”
People are still asking Hayman about his win and also the impressive trophy he won for the Paris Roubaix – a 15-kilogram cobble in honour of the gruelling cobblestone roads the race is famous for.
Unfortunately, he won’t be bringing the “sett” down under until he finally moves back to his native Australia for good.
Hayman felt Cooke and Buchanan might edge him for the Oppy. The 55-year-old Cooke won the T1-2 women’s time trial and road race, while Buchanan is a world champion in both the women’s BMX time trial and mountain bike’s four cross.
“Outside of the world championships, for me it’s probably the No.1 race in the world and it was a pretty special day then and we’ll wait and see if it gets recognised on Friday night,” he said.
“We’ve got Carol Cooke, who won two gold medals at the Paralympics in Rio and I was also recently at a function with Caroline and she won two world championships this year.
“That’s a pretty big deal too; it won’t be all clean sailing.”
NOMINEES FOR ELITE CYCLISTS OF THE YEAR
Para-cycling Female: Carol Cooke, Jessica Gallagher and Maddie Janssen, Sue Powell.
Para-cycling Male: Kyle Bridgwood, Alistair Donohoe, David Nicholas.
MTB Female: Caroline Buchanan, Tracey Hannah, Janine Jungfels.
MTB Male: Troy Brosnan, Jason English, Sam Hill.
Track Female: Annette Edmondson, Anna Meares, Rebecca Wiasak.
Track Male: Matthew Glaetzer, Michael Hepburn, Sam Welsford.
Road Female: Katrin Garfoot, Chloe Hosking, Amanda Spratt.
Road Male: Mathew Hayman, Michael Matthews, Richie Porte.
People’s Choice Award finalists: Kyle Bridgwood, Caroline Buchanan, Carol Cooke, Rohan Dennis, Jessica Gallagher, Katrin Garfoot, Matthew Glaetzer, Lucas Hamilton, Tracey Hannah, Mathew Hayman, Michael Hepburn, Chloe Hosking, Melissa Hoskins, Michael Matthews, Daniel McConnell, Anna Meares, David Nicholas, Richie Porte, Amanda Spratt, Sam Welsford and Sam Willoughby.