• Michael Matthews's shredded jersey after Stage 3 of the Tour de France (EPA)Source: EPA
Battered and bruised Australian team Orica-GreenEDGE safely negotiated Stage 4 of the Tour de France, passing what team sport director Matt White had labelled "its toughest test" of the race with its seven remaining riders unscathed.
By
Cycling Central

8 Jul 2015 - 7:58 AM  UPDATED 8 Jul 2015 - 10:01 AM

Having lost Simon Gerrans and Daryl Impey to a broken wrist and collarbone respectively after an horrific Stage 3 crash that affected five of the team’s riders, there had been serious concerns more losses could be incurred across the 13.3km of cobbles that featured on Stage 4.

Stage 4 Extras
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Broken wheels and fruitless attacks characterised a tense day for the overall favourites as the Tour de France hit the cobbles on Stage 4.
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Anticipation was high that the Tour de France would experience another dramatic day of racing but all the major general classification contenders held their nerve as Tony Martin took the stage honours and his maiden yellow jersey.

A patched up Michael Matthews was the biggest of those concerns, completing the 223.5km route from Seraing to Cambrai with injured ribs that were hampering his breathing and giving him serious discomfort on or off the bike.

"After scans last night, the doctors told me I have contusion of a bone," he posted to his Facebook page prior to Stage 4's start. "Every breath hurts, but I will try my best to survive."

And survive he did. The 25-year-old Canberra-born sprinter finished 16min 53sec down on Stage 4 winner Tony Martin (Etixx-Quickstep), but remains confident of making it to Paris.

“It’s really hard to say (how hard it was),” Matthews said. “I think my ribs jumped in and out of place a few times there.

“It was a real big struggle to get through today but I was able to have Pieter Weening around me, keeping me motivated through the stage and also through the cobbles. It was nice to have him supporting me and helping me get through the stage.”

Orica-GreenEDGE’s other two riders caught up in Stage 3’s carnage - Simon Yates and Michael Albasini - also finished cleanly, allowing some relief for White.

“Today wasn’t the ideal day after yesterday, with the injuries we were carrying through,” he said. “They actually came through better than I expected.

“Michael Matthews was obviously in a lot of pain, along with our other guys, but they got through in big groups, they were never in any danger of missing the time cut and they’re all in one piece so that is a win for today.

“You don’t want to be carrying injuries over pave but tomorrow is a flat day and that gives us another day to recover. We are going to need another 24-36hours to see what happens after that.”