Tour de France shorts: Albasini fractures arm in stage 5 crash

Orica-GreenEdge loses another rider as Albasini fractures arm in stage 5 crash

Orica-GreenEdge will start stage 6 of the 2015 Tour de France with just six riders after Michael Albasini fractured his upper arm in a crash on Wednesday. Svein Tuft also went down in the crash, but both riders were able to finish the stage. A medical check of Albasini subsequently revealed the fracture.

“It was another hectic day in the office,” said team director Matt White. “We were involved in multiple crashes, although I don’t think there was a team that wasn’t involved in a crash today. Michael Albasini hurt himself in his second crash, and after a review from our medical team and scans, will not start tomorrow due to a fracture in his upper left arm.”

The team previously lost Daryl Impey and Simon Gerrans to the massive stage 3 crash that caused officials to temporarily neutralise the race.

A battered Michael Albasini and Svein Tuft finish stage 5 of the Tour de France.

A sleepless night and nervous stage for Martin and the yellow jersey

Tuesday night was a bit fitful for the new leader of the Tour de France, as Tony Martin had trouble sleeping under the weight of the yellow jersey he had been seeking through the first four stages. But the German time trial specialist bounced back in time to play a role in leading out Etixx-QuickStep teammate Mark Cavendish for the stage 5 finale in Amiens.

"I couldn't sleep so well last night," Martin said in a team press release. "I fell asleep maybe at 2 o'clock in the morning and woke up early again, but it was OK for me. I woke up feeling well, thinking directly about the yellow jersey. It gave me a lot of power and morale today in the race. I hope I can find more sleep in the next nights, or else I won't see Paris (laughs)."

Martin could be seen in his yellow jersey at the end of the windy and wet stage driving the pace on the front of the peloton for Cavendish, who ultimately finished third behind André Greipel (Lotto Soudal) and Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo).

"I tried to do my job for Cav in the finale," he said. "I wanted to lead him until the last kilometer and a half and stay safe for yellow. I don't know what happened with the sprint after that. I did my job for Cav as well as I could and didn't take any risks. I think the team did well today going into the sprint. We avoided crashes and were always in good position.

“The race was super stressful, a lot of nervousness, crashing and fighting for position," Martin said. "I couldn't really enjoy the day as I didn't have time to think about being in yellow. In the end of this kind of stage we were lucky to stay upright. It wasn't really a day for celebration."

Martin said his goal is to keep the jersey through the stage 9 team time trial on Sunday.

“I just want to keep yellow as long as possible, but I am also realistic that when the big mountains come I probably cannot stay with the best riders, especially since I didn't train for those kinds of stages," he said.  "My goal is to stay in yellow until the [team time trial], not the big mountains."

Tony Martin rides in the yellow jersey during stage 5 of the 2015 Tour de France.

Lotto Soudal extends with Benoot

Belgian Tiesj Benoot, 21, is not racing at the Tour de France this year, but the neo-pro who put in such strong perofrmances during the Classics now has two more chances to be selected for Lotto Soudal's Tour team after extending his contract through 2017. Benoot was second overall in the Tour of Belgium in May and fifth in the Tour of Flanders, in addition to working hard for his teammates.

“When you see what Tiesj already has performed in his first year as pro than it’s logical that we take initiative," team manager Marc Sergeant said. "It’s our strategy to offer opportunities to young riders, that’s in our DNA, but it’s also fun to set that next step with them, like we did with Tim Wellens.

"That has to be a reason why riders want to come to our team. Young riders know that they can grow here, can make mistakes and that we look at a period longer than a few weeks or months. Look at Stig Broeckx, Sean De Bie, Louis Vervaeke or Tim Wellens. Together with Tiesj we’ll draw up a programme with which he can test his limits. He and we know he is good on several terrains; in the future it will become clear what suits him best.”

Benoot was thrilled to add to his contract after just half a year on the job. "I’m feeling very good in this team and I’m looking forward to be part of the team the next few years as well. It’s nice to have security for the future. But it’s not only with this extended contract that the team shows it has faith in me. I get opportunities to start in the big races like Tour of Flanders and Dauphiné and can save energy for the finale. I get a balanced programme that isn’t too hard.”

Mixed day for Greg Van Avermaet

The BMC team worked hard to protect GC rider Tejay van Garderen during the fifth stage of the Tour de France. When that all went according to plan, Greg Van Avermaet tried to take part in the bunch sprint, finishing 10th, despite being included in a crash early on in the stage.

On Thursday, he targets the victory in stage 6 from Abbéville to Le Havre. “They say you have to crash at least once in the Tour so I hope this was the only time. It was not so hard so I think I will be 100 per cent tomorrow,” Van Avermaet said at the finish line in Amiens, showing the bloody signs of the crash on his elbow. “A Garmin guy slipped away just in front of me and then we were with two guys down.”

From Amiens he switched focus to the sixth stage. Just like he did a couple of times last year, Van Avermaet will be spending some time on Google Maps. “The stage should suit me. I don’t know the finish so I’ll have to check it out on Google Maps this evening,” Van Avermaet said.

In the mean time he will be hoping his wife Ellen isn’t giving birth to their baby, which is planned for July 21. Van Avermaet agreed with the BMC team to stay at least until the team time trial. 

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