2018 may only be a couple of weeks old, but pro cycling already has its first case of heroism in the face of a very nasty injury as Australian neo-pro Michael Storer lined up for the opening stage of the Tour Down Under just a week after having his appendix removed.
Storer, who turned pro with Team Sunweb at the start of the year but is riding the Tour Down Under with the UniSA-Australia team for the second year in succession, suffered what he described as “typical gastro symptoms” after the National Championships on Sunday, January 7.
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The 20-year-old ignored the symptoms until they worsened the following day, at which point he decided to seek medical advice, with doctors diagnosing early stage appendicitis and Storer going under the knife to have his appendix removed at the start of last week.
Watch: Tour Down Under stage one highlights
Storer wisely sat out the People’s Choice Classic criterium on Sunday to give himself a little extra rest, before taking to the start line in Australian colours for the opening stage of the Tour Down Under on Tuesday, a 145km stage between Port Adelaide and Lyndoch.
Finishing 127th on the day (with the stage won by André Greipel) and losing nearly two minutes to the leaders means that it is unlikely that Storer will be able to repeat the 15th place overall that he achieved in 2017, but given his build-up just getting round would be a success.
12-months ago it was another neo-pro who was suffering from appendicitis in the build-up to the opening race of the WorldTour season.
Owain Doull suffered the same illness ahead of what was meant to be his first race with Team Sky, but, unlike Storer, was forced to withdraw from the Tour Down Under after his appendix ruptured on the same day that the race got underway.