Matthews out of Tour de France due to illness, Benoot also withdraws

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A year after he won the green jersey in the Tour de France, Michael Matthews has ended the event prematurely and in a very different fashion. The Australian was hit by illness overnight, vomiting and being unable to eat. He has also had a fever. Although he and his Team Sunweb squad hoped he would be well enough to continue, the team has confirmed that he has had to exit the race.

Matthews is a sprinter but also a solid climber on shorter ascents. Wednesday’s stage five of the race may well have suited him, but instead he is heading home.

“I’m really disappointed to not start this morning,” said Matthews. “I’ve been really ill this morning and tried all I could to make it to the start line, but feeling like this, it’s simply not possible. I will now go home to recover and will continue cheering for the guys from there.”

Team coach Tom Veelers gave more details about what happened. “Michael was up early this morning being sick and was unable to keep any food down,” he said. “At breakfast we tried to get some more nutrition into him, but again, he was unable to keep it down. Our doctor checked him just before the start and he had a fever, and for us this means that he cannot start.

“Michael is not only a strong guy in going for day results, but he’s also of huge value to the team on the difficult stages so it is a huge blow for us to lose him. Still, we will to continue to fight with seven guys and we wish Michael all the best in feeling better soon.”

Matthews said earlier in the race that chasing a second green jersey was not in the cards due to the team’s decision to fully back Tom Dumoulin’s bid for the overall classification. Dumoulin won last year’s Giro d’Italia and was runner-up this year.

Dumoulin described the news as a big blow.

Also out of the Tour is Lotto-Soudal rider Tiesj Benoot. He crashed five kilometres from the end of Tuesday’s fourth stage, suffering a number of injuries. These included a second degree dislocation of the AC joint in his right shoulder, as well as bruising to his ribs, his right shoulder blade and left wrist. He needed five stitches to close a cut at his right eyebrow and another stitch to the back of his head.

The Belgian also had abrasions on his hips, back, arms and legs.

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