Canberra rider Michael Matthews has been withdrawn from his Orica-GreenEDGE team for the Tour de France after a medical assessment on his injuries from a training crash on Tuesday ruled he could not start the race on Saturday.
Matthews (Orica-GreenEDGE) was one of the Australian team's best hopes for a stage win, based on his development over the last year, especially at the Giro d'Italia where he won stage six and wore the leader's pink jersey for six days.
His Giro performance secured his place in the orica-GreenEDGE line-up for the Tour that finishes in Paris on July 27, and after he won the stage one time trial at the Tour de Slovenie - his last race - confidence was high that he would be on form.
But his dream - and the team's hopes - were thrown into grave doubt when he crashed while training in Monaco on Tuesday, sustained severe abrasions to his left side and a cut to the palm of his hand that required six stitches.
Matthews still travelled on Wednesday to Yorkshire where the Tour is to start in Leeds and joined his teammates at their hotel in nearby Harrogate where he, the team management and its medical team monitored his condition.
But by lunchtime on Friday, it was clear Matthews was not up to taking part in the Tour. He was scratched and his place will be taken by Canadian Christian Meier, who flew in on Thursday from Vancouver after being called up on standby.
For Meier, 29, the start will be his first in the Tour. So Orica-GreenEDGE will still have five rookies in the race.
“It hasn’t really sunk in yet, it has been a little bit of a whirlwind 24hours,” Meier said.
“It not the way you want to start a Tour just because a guy is injured, but I have to say, as my first Tour I am extremely excited to start.
“It’s every bike riders dream to do the Tour de France one day and it’s unbelievable that it is happening.”