It might have been a hot and sunny day in Huy, but there was a dark cloud hanging over the Orica-GreenEdge bus at the finish of stage 3. A high-speed crash at the front of the bunch brought down five of their riders, putting a big dent in the team’s ambitions for the Tour de France. The team’s bus began to look more like an impromptu medical unit as rider upon rider rolled up with bits of jersey and skin missing.
Simon Gerrans, Michael Matthews, Simon Yates, Daryl Impey and Michael Albasini were all involved in the incident that also took out Fabian Cancellara and Tom Dumoulin. “I haven’t seen the full wash-up but I think that we got the full brunt of it. We had five guys involved in the crash out of nine, so it wasn’t the best of days,” directeur sportif Matt White said, understating the matter a little.
The crash occurred at the front of the peloton on a straight stretch of road as two riders touched wheels. The result was dramatic with several riders skidding for metres and some colliding with a road-side lamp post. Gerrans, Impey and Matthews appeared to come off worse than their other teammates. Matthews and Impey were both able to continue, but a trip to the doctor confirmed that the Australian had in fact fractured a rib while the South African fractured his collarbone. Impey will not start tomorrow, however the team have not confirmed whether Matthews will continue.
Gerrans was one of a number of riders to abandon immediately with a suspected broken wrist. It’s the third major injury for Gerrans this season, after suffering a broken collarbone over the winter and a broken elbow at Strade Bianche.
“He’s had more bad luck this year than he’s had in his whole career,” said White. “To put it all together, it’s certainly not ideal for Gerro… It means that he’s got another injury to come back from. It’s obviously very disappointing. He’s prepared very well for the Tour de France and the setback certainly hasn’t been ideal.
“He’s going to go to hospital, I’m not sure if he needs surgery… I haven’t spoken to him or the doctor now but we’ll obviously make plans after we’ve assessed his injury.”
There was a silver lining for the team that despite being involved in the crash, Simon Yates was able to finish eighth on the Mur de Huy. It’s little consolation though when they’ve lost one of their big hitters and could lose another before the day is over, with the cobbles certainly a daunting prospect for Matthews and his broken rib. White refuses to give up though and he’s confident that the team can bounce back from such a tough day.
“When you look at last year’s Tour it wasn’t the ideal run-in either and we certainly didn’t give up the,” he said, hinting at Matthews’ training crash that saw him forced to pull out of his debut Tour just days before the start. “First things first is we’ve got to see how the boys are. It’s early in the Tour and there’s a long way to go and plenty more opportunities to, with who and how we do it, it’s too early to say.
“It’s very disappointing but our ambitions haven’t changed. We’ve got to see how it all washes up in the end but the race hasn’t finished that long and once we’ve talked to our medical staff and see how the guys are then we can make some new plans.”
Uninjured for Orica-GreenEdge were Luke Durbridge, Svein Tuft, Pieter Weening and Adam Yates.