April 10, 2016

ROUBAIX, France (AP) Matthew Hayman of Australia, 37, out-sprinted his rivals to win the prestigious Paris-Roubaix race - known as the Queen of Classics - for the biggest win of his career.

Hayman, whose previous career highlight was the gold medal in the Commonwealth Games road race in 2006, beat four-time champion Tom Boonen of Belgium in a dash to the line Sunday.

Hayman is the second Australian to win the famed race over cobblestones after Stuart O'Grady in 2007. He did so in his 15th attempt, having twice finished in the top 10.

''This is my favorite race, the race I had always dreamed of,'' Hayman said. ''I saved my legs and remained safe all day. I could tell in the finale that the other guys were also pretty tired.''

The win was even more unexpected as he has hardly raced since breaking his arm five weeks ago at the Het Nieuwsblad race.

''It's just pure disbelief, I can't believe it,'' Hayman said. ''I only resumed (racing) in Spain last week.''

Britain's Ian Stannard finished third ahead of Belgium's Sep Vanmarcke. Norwegian Edvald Boasson Hagen placed fifth.

Boonen tried to pull away 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) from the end but was caught. The 35-year-old Boonen still looked set for a fifth win as he led Hayman and Vanmarcke coming into the velodrome.

''Even in the finale, I rode to win it. I worked very hard,'' Boonen said. ''In the final sprint I did everything I could.''

French sprinter Arnaud Demare pulled out Thursday following a crash last weekend during the 100th edition of the Tour of Flanders, won by world champion Peter Sagan of Slovakia.

Demare, who recovered from a crash to win the prestigious Milan-San Remo classic last month, injured the right side of his body in the crash and did not feel fit enough to take part.

Just after the halfway stage of the 257.5-kilometer (159.7-mile) route from Compiegne to Roubaix, a crash split the peloton and caught Sagan and other pre-race favorites such as Fabian Cancellara and Alexander Kristoff, who sustained two punctures during the race.

With about 50 kilometers remaining, Cancellara's hopes of a fourth Roubaix win were undone when he crashed heavily on the cobbled sector of Mons en Pevele along with Dutchman Niki Terpstra, the 2014 champion.

''I always said that you needed luck in Roubaix and today I was not lucky,'' Cancellara said. ''That's Paris-Roubaix - it really is the Hell of the North.''

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