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by Shane Stokes
March 1, 2018
Photography by Cor Vos
Australian rider Michael Matthews has had an unwelcome twist to his Classics campaign, suffering a fracture to his shoulder in the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad on Saturday. The Team Sunweb rider hit the deck towards the end of race.
Initially he and the team thought that the crash damage was limited to abrasions. However this is not the case. “Matthews underwent further investigation upon returning home where the fracture in his left shoulder was discovered,” said the team.
Team Sunweb Physician Anko Boelens elaborated on the injury. “The diagnosis from the MRI scan is a non-displaced fracture of the greater tuberosity of the left upper arm. Because the fragment is not displaced, surgery in this case is not required.”
Although the injury is not as severe as might have been the case, he has been forced to withdraw from his next scheduled target. Boelens said that he will need to take some rest and do physiotherapy prior to restarting training on the rollers.
“Much is dependent on improvement over the next days, but at the moment we can certainly say that Strade Bianche on Saturday is not possible,” he said. “The healing process and Michael’s pain levels will determine when he can return to the bike. After the weekend we will re-evaluate for his upcoming races and see if Tirreno is realistic.”
Teammate Lennard Hofstede will stand in for the 27 year old.
Matthews’ frustration with being sidelined will be amplified by the fact that Saturday’s race was his first of the year. The Classics are a big target for him this season, and he will hope that he isn’t out of action for a long time.
His Classics results last season include fourth in Liège-Bastogne-Liège, eighth in Gent-Wevelgem, 10th in the Amstel Gold Race and 12th in Milan-San Remo.
Prior to those races he took four top-seven stages finishes in Paris-Nice.