Augustyn moves back to Europe, is hoping to return to professional cycling
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Thursday, June 06, 2013

Augustyn moves back to Europe, is hoping to return to professional cycling

by Shane Stokes at 12:06 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 
South African feels he’s fully recovered from 2011 hip operation, says he is physically and mentally strong again

John Lee AugustynOne year after he took an indefinite break from his pro career due to complications from a hip operation, former Team Sky rider John Lee Augustyn has moved back to Europe and is working to secure a contract there. The South African, who is 26 years of age, has battled to come back from his operation and now believes he is making sufficient progress to give racing another try.

“I had a crash in 2007 in the Volta a Portugal and then had to have a hip resurfacing in 2011. After that I had some issues and it was difficult, both physically and mentally,” Augustyn told VeloNation. “I was still under contract with the Italian team Utensilnord Named, but after the first few races [in 2012] I could feel that I was not strong enough. That is when I decided to take a break from the professional scene and do something a little different.”

He and his wife moved back to South Africa and he opened a bike shop in his home town. He continued with gym work, doing strengthening and conditioning exercises to help rebuild the leg strength which he had lost after his hip operation. “I also participated in some local races and must say it felt good to again do some racing, even though I was not at the same level that as I used to be,” he explained.

“After some thinking, myself and my wife have decided to move back to Italy. I am now mentally strong and I feel physically good enough to start racing at the pro level again. I feel that I still have good years of racing left in my legs.”

The South African rider won his country’s national under 23 title in 2006 and placed second overall in the Tour of Japan. Having signed for Barloworld at the end of the season, he finished third overall in the Vuelta a Asturias in 2007 and also took the mountains classification in the Volta ao Alentejo one year later. However a crash in the time trial of the Volta a Portugal left him with a broken hip and ended his season.

Augustyn returned to competition in 2008 and made his Tour de France debut with Barloworld. On stage sixteen he crested the Col de la Bonette in first place, but crashed on the descent when he spectacularly overshot a tight bend. He slid 30 metres down the shale-covered mountainside but fortunately was able to come to a halt, climb back up to the roadside and complete the stage.

The-then 21 year old finished in 45th place in the general classification and was fifth in the mountains competition. He was also eight in the Subida al Naranco and 26th in the Beijing Olympic road race.

After a solid 2009 season, he began a two year deal with Team Sky the following year but later discovered that his hip injury had led to osteonecrosis, a bone condition which eventually required the resurfacing operation. The initial difficulties in recovering from that led to him walking away from his Utensilnord Named contract in 2012, but after doing some racing in South Africa this season he feels ready to chase a pro contract.

“I am now settled in Italy again doing what I love most, riding my bike in the mountains and through the vineyards. I am doing some solid training to get strong again,” he stated.

“I really want to start racing again, be it on the road or mountain biking. I am currently on the lookout for some sponsors or a pro team. If everything goes to plan it would be fantastic to get back onto a ProTour team again.. that is what every cyclist’s dream is.”

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