Tom Boonen rode his trusted Specialized Roubaix, a bike named after this very race, with special inserts designed to flex and absorb the hand numbing vibration of riding on the cobbles.
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Surprising then, that the winner, Mathew Hayman took to the cobbles aboard his favoured Scott Foil aero bike, despite having the option to ride a Scott Solace, the American brand’s bike for the cobbles.
Upon it’s launch last summer, Scott claimed that comfort of new Foil had been significantly increased over the previous version. Having ridden it ourselves we would agree, but this is certainly not a plush ride designed for rough surfaces.
Frame choice aside, most riders opt for hacks and modifications to ease their suffering. These often include, saddles with additional padding, gel inserts on the handlebars, double wrapped bar tape, additional cyclocross style brake levers on the tops and additional shifters too.
At 37, Hayman is a 16-time veteran of the Paris-Roubaix and opted for none of these.
Watch: Paris-Roubaix 2016 highlights
After the race, Hayman explained, “in the past I have come into the race stressed, with good form, knowing I could do well and changing bits of my bike and going through all the modifications and equipment and here I just said look, I am just going to ride this bike and see where it gets me. I felt comfortable on it.”
Orica-GreenEdge mechanic Craig Geater told us “Matty told me that he had ridden Paris-Roubaix 16 times and had always been fussy with his tyre pressure and this and that and it’s never gone right, so he decided to just use his normal race bike, with a standard setup he uses in normal races.”
Even his bottle cages were standard issue Elite Cannibal cages, with no additional sandpaper added to hold the bottles in place.
The only Paris-Roubaix specific tech on his bike were the 28mm Continental Pro Ltd tubular tyres and 44t inner chainring instead of his usual 39t.
This is deemed preferable because the gap between the two rings is smaller, reducing the chance of dropping a chain at a crucial moment and Paris-Roubaix is not very hilly, so many riders do not feel the need for a 39 tooth ring.
The obvious question arises – If a rider who was given odds of 800/1 can win the toughest one day race in the world on an aero bike, are the slight suspension features and dampeners found on many bikes completely unnecessary and merely a marketing gimmick?
After all, the Pinarello K8-S only has 1cm of travel in the rear shock. Perhaps Mathew Hayman is just a different breed to the rest.