Twelve months ago, appendicitis ruled out Team Sky neo-pro Owain Doull from the Tour Down Under. In January 2018, Australian neo-pro Michael Storer (Team Sunweb) suffered the same ailment but has taken his place on the start line for the WorldTour opener.
Storer sat out the People’s Choice Classic Sunday night criterium to ensure he would be in full health for Tuesday’s stage 1 of the Tour Down Under, signing on for the race Tuesday morning in Port Adelaide.
“It is not ideal having my appendix out. The team was really a good with that, taking those extra precautions and it has really paid off,” Storer told Cyclingnews on the start of stage 1. ”That is why I can be on the start line today. I think it is the best possible outcome.”
The 20-year-old made his Tour Down Under debut last year with the UniSA-Australia team but returns to the race as a fully-fledged professional with Team Sunweb. Fifteenth last year, Storer is riding in a support role for Sam Oomen across the week.
“That is my role, and seeing as I have had the surgery as well, I am happy to slot into that role,” he said. “Plus it is my first race with the team. I really enjoy doing this sort of work anyway. It is quite fun pulling through for the guys and seeing what they can do.”
Stage 1 of the Tour Down Under was a hot and flat day in the saddle, with few hilly efforts to test Storer post-surgery. Storer, though, would have accepted a day of bergs had they been on the menu.
“Maybe the day will be a bit easier and that might be a good thing, but I am happy to push myself anyway as long as there are no issues with the surgery, which I don’t think there will be. Either way, a flat day or a hilly day, I am going to try and work for the team. I don’t see too much difference.”
Safely navigating the 145-kilometre stage, Storer crossed the line in 127th place, 1:48 down on Andre Greipel. He's now ready for the stage 2 Stirling circuit where he will have the responsibility of ensuring Oomen is well positioned for the first stage with GC consequences.