Owain Doull touched down in Australia last week with high hopes of making his debut at WorldTour level, but the Welshman now finds himself in hospital recovering from what can be a very serious condition.
The 23-year-old, who has turned pro with Team Sky this season, did not start the People's Choice Classic criterium event on Sunday and was swiftly pulled from the Tour Down Under, with little detail of his ailment other than 'illness'.
On Tuesday, after the opening stage of the first WorldTour race of the 2017 season, Doull revealed on social media that his appendix had ruptured and he'd had it removed.
"Not exactly how I pictured making my world tour debut but when your appendix ruptures there isn't much you can do. Ta for all the messages," he wrote on Twitter.
Appendicitis is a common but serious condition that leads to the removal of the appendix, and there can be life-threatening complications if the appendix bursts as it leaves the abdomen open to infection, which can spread through the body.
"Initially Owain had a stomach bug and he had those symptoms for around 36 hours. He was starting to improve, but on Tuesday morning his stomach pain became a lot worse," explained Team Sky doctor Neil Heron in an update on Tuesday.
"We began to suspect appendicitis and he was taken to Royal Adelaide Hospital where they confirmed the suspected diagnosis. The earliest he will leave the hospital is Thursday, and recovery and recuperation is likely to take at least four weeks. Owain is obviously disappointed, but he appreciates he needs to be 100% fit to get back racing."
Doull was replaced in Team Sky's Tour Down Under team by Kenny Elissonde, who was swiftly pulled from a training outing with Chris Froome in Brisbane ahead of the Herald Sun Tour in order to make the start line in Adelaide. The opening stage was won by Australian sprinter Caleb Ewan.
Not exactly how I pictured making my world tour debut but when your appendix ruptures there isn't much you can do. Ta for all the messages pic.twitter.com/3e1ixUSIaQ— Owain Doull (@owaindoull) January 17, 2017