John-Lee Augustyn takes indefinite break from pro career
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Friday, May 11, 2012

John-Lee Augustyn takes indefinite break from pro career

by Xylon van Eyck at 9:23 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Interviews, Injury
Former Team Sky rider to open bike shop in South Africa

John Lee AugustynJohn-Lee Augustyn has revealed to VeloNation that he is taking a hiatus from professional cycling following a series of injury concerns. The South African, who underwent a hip resurfacing operation last year, has failed to recover sufficiently to perform consistently at an elite level and has taken medical advice from his doctors to take a considerable amount of time off the bike.

“The decision has been coming for some time now,” he told VeloNation. “Obviously we’ve been waiting to see if my hip replacement can cope on a professional level. I have been through a lot and working closely with Dr. Jeroen Swart. We knew that along the way there would be some obstacles to get over, but that also plays a big mental role on an athlete’s mind when you start giving all you have to achieve a goal and then another injury tackles you. My wife has been very supportive to keep me on the right track of things.”

Augustyn, who spent two years at Team Sky from 2010 – 2011, signed for Utensilnord Named this year. He started the season off well in training and had a successful winter. After only competing in one race last year, he along with Dr. Swart put together a training program that would emulate racing. The 25 year old then started his season in March happy with his training numbers, until what was feared happened.

“I did my first race for the team at Settimana Coppi e Bartali. This would be my first stage race after more than a year so I was ready for a battle. After the hip resurfacing I had some niggles but I have never experienced any pain. The opposite leg (to the hip that was operated on) started giving problems in the cartilage of the knee. This was enough to give me an immense amount of pain and got to the point where I could not stay with the bunch anymore, so I stopped with my head in a dump again.

“After that we did all the tests possible to see what was happening. Blood tests, liver tests, MRI on the knee and hip. We could see that the chrome and cobalt levels [from the hip insert - ed.] where higher than what it should be but had not got to a toxic level yet. The possibility of it getting toxic obviously scared the crap out of my wife and family. I then sat down with my wife, family and team and we all said that first thing is that I have to look after my health and the rest will follow.”

Augustyn then met with Utensilnord Named management. He decided to terminate his contract and focus on recovery, with the hope of returning to the professional peloton once healthy again.

“The team have been very supportive. Fabio Bordonali welcomed me into his team with open arms to help me achieve my goals again. He being a pro rider helps a lot with my decision; if a rider is not 100%, you will never win.

“I have spoken to Jeroen and Bobby Julich as well and they have given me a lot of advise on how to look after myself and on my decision to stop. Then over time when I feel ready again and hopefully have no problems from the hip resurfacing, I can start racing again,” Augustyn said.

In the meantime the 25 year old, who has started all three Grand Tours during his career, will be opening a bike shop in his hometown of Port Elizabeth in South Africa. He will be offering training and nutrition advice to the local cycling community.

Augustyn was the youngest rider during the 2008 Tour de France and finished in 45th place in the general classification. He also finished 26th in the Beijing Olympic road race that year. Other notable results include finishing third in the Vuelta Ciclista Asturias in 2007 and twelfth overall in the 2010 Tour of Austria.


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