Orica-GreenEdge revealed Wednesday night that Michael Matthews suffered two small fractures to his ribcage in the massive crash during stage 3. Matthews has struggled through two stages since then, finishing stage 5 in 176th place nearly 15 minutes down on the leaders.
Nevertheless, the 24-year-old Australian got a bit of good news at the finish when race organizers awarded him the jersey for most combative rider on the same day his team honoured the Australian soldiers who fought and died in the area during World War I.
Wednesday’s stage 5 route covered ground that was the Western Front in World War I, and the Orica-GreenEdge riders wore black armbands with the Australian Centenary logo to commemorate the battlefields and soldiers who fought there.
“Today was definitely a special day for our team,” said Orica Sport Director Matt White. “It’s an honour for us to be able to make a tribute to those who sacrificed for our future.
“It was also a special feeling to pass by so many Aussie flags in the course, knowing how important this area is in our history and for everyone to really get behind it. For Michael Matthews to be recognised was a nice cap off.”
Windy and wet conditions made for another nervous day in the bunch, and multiple crashes resulted. Orica’s Svein Tuft and Michael Albasini were caught up in the carnage, but both riders managed to finish the stage. Albasini, however, was later diagnosed with a fractured arm and will not start stage 6 on Thursday.