Rogers says Mat Hayman will be remembered on and off the bike

Canberra's champion cyclist Mathew Hayman was a good bloke long before he earned an international reputation as a selfless team man.

Three-time world champion Michael Rogers grew up racing against Hayman and said the kid who beat him in the under-13 ACT championships was just as humble as the man who won the Paris-Roubaix 25 years later.

Paris-Roubaix winner Mathew Hayman will retire following the Tour Down Under this week. Credit:EPA

Hayman will sign off a decorated career at the Tour Down Under this week after almost two decades as a professional.

The 40-year-old is one of most respected team riders in world cycling but the cobbled classics specialist still collected some famous victories for himself.

Hayman won gold in the road race at the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games but Rogers said the significance of his 2016 Paris-Roubaix triumph cannot be understated.

"It's the biggest and most prestigious one day race in the cycling world," Rogers said.

"The winner of Paris-Roubaix is on the front page of every European newspaper on Monday. It's as big as the Melbourne Cup in Australia.

"You ask any young aspiring cyclist what race they want to win and it's the Tour de France or Paris-Roubaix and Mat is one of the only non-Europeans to win the race, which just underlines the calibre of cyclist he is."

Rogers said Hayman had always been an "exceptional athlete" but emphasised his selfless approach to the sport was behind his longevity.

"He's the pillar of teams because he's not only out there battening down hatches when the action is on, but he's also the brain behind the wins," Rogers said.

"He might not be there in the final in the big mountains, that's not his rider category but he's got tons of experience and has masterminded a lot wins, putting the framework together and making sure of the tactics and discipline is on track to get their leader to finish in the best shape possible.

"His role goes way beyond what you see him physically do on the bike, there's a lot more going on in the background that the general public doesn't see."

Hayman is known as a gentleman of the sport and Rogers said it's not a persona he developed over the years – he always had it.

Canberra cyclist Mathew Hayman won the 2016 Paris-Roubaix. Credit:EPA

"We grew up together and as kids I can remember him beating me in the under-13 ACT championships in a sprint to the line," Hayman said.

"Mat is the same person that he was at those ACT champs, even know he's had success, as a person he hasn't changed one bit and is still an absolute gentleman.

"Nine times out of 10 he would sacrifice his own success for teammates. Apart from his riding and wins, his capability is a standout trait he'll always be remembered for.

"I'm sure the day he stops there will be many doors open for him in the world of cycling."

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