George Bennett has taken the "drastic measure" of undergoing surgery to get rid of the side stitch which has plagued his career.
The Kiwi cyclist, who helped his Jumbo-Visma teammate Primoz Roglic win the Vuelta a Espana this year, was diagnosed with slipping rib syndrome.
The 29-year-old Bennett has said his career was becoming unsustainable because it felt as if he was being knifed in the stomach every time he pushed hard on the bike.
"It's something I've been battling forever it seems," he told Radio Sport from Spain.
"I'm three or four weeks ahead of the recovery time but I won't know if it has worked until another month.
"If it works it will be career changing. If it doesn't, it was something I had to try anyway."
Bennett said cartilage had broken off but was still attached to his ribs.
Cyclingnews reported Bennett as saying "essentially I had three ribs removed…each one was around 8cm long and made up of cartilage."
The hunched over position that road cyclists use exacerbated the problem.
Bennett returns to Nelson this month. His summer plans include competing in the Tour Down Under and Cadel Evans races in Australia, and February's nationals in Cambridge.