After six days in the Giro d'Italia's maglia rosa, Michael Matthews' first day back in his Orica-GreenEdge kit was far from charmed. The 23-year-old was caught up in a crash during stage nine suffering a contusion to his left thigh but he battled on to finish the stage after teammate Pieter Weening took line honours.
Matthews spent the rest day recovering from his wounds but the team, after consultation with the medical staff, have decided to withdraw him from the race.
After the rest day, Matthews narrowly lost the stage 10 sprint to Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ) and explained that besides the pain he was feeling, the efforts by his teammates while he was in pink was motivation to go for the win. "I've got a really sore back but I really wanted to put it all aside and have another good go in the finish," Matthews said, showing maturity beyond his years.
"The leader of the team has to sprint no matter what, so I put the pain aside and went for it today."
After the stage, the team released a statement on the withdrawal of Matthews who was hoping he could continue the race. "After consulting with our medical staff, we have decided that it was the most prudent decision to take Michael out of the Giro," the team statement said.
"He fought hard to get a result today and it was extremely impressive, knowing that he had a lot of pain after his crash the day before yesterday. He has a substantial contusion and is generally quite bruised, so everything taken into consideration, it was the right thing to do."
The team sports director Matt White was impressed by Matthews' effort to contest the sprint and was optimistic that he would continue on. "Michael turned himself inside out to get that result," said White. "He definitely has a lot of discomfort from his crash. The rest day yesterday helped, and today was one of the easier days to nurse the guys through the race. "
While Matthews isn't the only GreenEdge rider suffering at the moment, the team decided that after a successful first 10 days of the Giro, withdrawing Matthews was the best way for him to recover from his injuries.
"He's had a huge break-through here winning a stage and carrying the pink jersey and he has definitely also learned a lot," the team statement said.
"The team has worked hard for him and we’re all proud to have been able to bring a young talent this far in his first Giro d'Italia. This year's Giro has given us unforgettable moments already, but the race is still long and we're going to work hard to try and get more success in the second part."