Ageless Hayman powers cycling Games charge

Australia's Mathew Hayman won the cycling road race at the Commonwealth Games in 2006.
Australia's Mathew Hayman won the cycling road race at the Commonwealth Games in 2006.

Mathew Hayman was the first person Steele Von Hoff thought of when the road cyclist fell and broke four vertebrae on the same day he was selected in his first Commonwealth Games team.

Rather than accept his dream was dashed, Von Hoff left hospital knowing it was alive, thanks to a precedent set by his 39-year-old cycling team captain.

Two years prior, Hayman had broken his arm six weeks out from his favourite Paris-Roubaix race.

With his arm in a cast and the aid of a ladder, he hopped on the stationary bike to train and defied the odds to eventually brave the famed cobblestones on race day.

In his 15th crack at the race, Hayman outsprinted four-time champion Tom Boonen to prevail in one of the most emotional sporting moments you could witness.

With that image in mind, Von Hoff is also on the stationary bike and eyeing off a start on the Gold Coast next month.

"It was a bit of insanity there not wanting to give up," Hayman said.

"I'd worked so hard to get to that point and Steele has too ... to be named is a bit of a dream and for it all to come down so quickly, if I can help, having that hope if he keeps at it, then that's good."

Hayman, who will turn 40 in April, won gold in Melbourne's 2006 Commonwealth Games road race and will race Paris-Roubaix the weekend before lining up on the Gold Coast.

Triple world championship medallist and 2014 bronze medallist Katrin Garfoot will lead the women's road team as part of a 36-strong Australian cycling squad that includes track, para-cycling and mountain bike members.

Belgium-based Hayman still keeps a close eye on the track scene and knows - after the Australians won just two medals at Rio's Olympic velodrome - how important the Games are under new Cycling Australia high performance boss Simon Jones.

Only four riders - Stephanie Morton, Matt Glaetzer, Cameron Meyer and Callum Scotson - were sent to last weekend's world titles as the remainder were ordered to stay behind and focus on the Gold Coast.

All four finished on the podium, with Glaetzer winning his first world sprint title and Meyer his fifth points rainbow jersey and ninth overall world title.

Jones wants Australia to win at least half of the 16 able-bodied track golds up for grabs at Brisbane's Anna Meares Velodrome in April, with the end goal to produce at least four Olympic champions in 2020.

"Sometimes we've dominated an Olympics and other times we've had to go back to drawing board," Hayman said.

"They've come up with a plan and decided this is the way to tackle Tokyo and in high level sport you have to take some risks and go out and change the game if things aren't working."

Australian Associated Press