John-Lee Augustyn returns to professional racing next week, says training has gone ‘really well’
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Tuesday, January 07, 2014

John-Lee Augustyn returns to professional racing next week, says training has gone ‘really well’

by VeloNation Press at 8:56 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 
With hip resurfacing settled down, South African ready to begin second career with MTN Qhubeka

John Lee AugustynSet to officially return to professional cycling in six days' time at La Tropicale Amissa Bongo in Gabon, South African climber John Lee Augustyn has said that he is feeling in good shape despite a recent illness.

The climber is coming back to the sport after over a year out of the pro ranks, and has been working hard in advance of his racing debut with MTN Qhubeka.

“My training has been going really well, I’ve been feeling good on the bike as well,” the Italian-based rider Augustyn said. “I just have a bit of bad luck now with a cold that’s going around here so for the last few days I’ve been cutting the training load to try and get healthy again but I will definitely be ready for the race.”

Augustyn has long been regarded as one of the best talents on his continent and won the South African under 23 title in 2006. He also placed second overall in the Tour of Japan the same year. He signed a contract with Barloworld for the following season and when he took third overall in the Vuelta a Asturias, it looked like he was well on track.

However his progress was disrupted by a bad crash in the 2007 Volta a Portugal. He suffered a fractured hip and while it healed and he returned to competition in 2008, riding the Tour de France and finishing fifth in the mountains competition, all was not right.

While with Team Sky in 2010, he and doctors discovered that his hip injury had led to osteonecrosis, a condition which causes the bone to deteriorate. He had a hip resurfacing operation in 2011 but was forced to walk away from a contract with the Utensilnord Named team in 2012 due to difficulties with his recovery.

Augustyn put his career on indefinite hold but with his hip settling down, he did some racing last year in South Africa. Encouraged by how he was feeling, he moved to Italy to continue his build-up and made contact with MTN Qhubeka last summer about a possible return.

That led to tests, encouraging medical and physiological results and then a contract.

“My goal is to get back into the racing side of things and be there to support the team as much as I can,” he said, initially looking to aid the other riders. However he believes that he can go on to achieve personal results. “I will then take it from there on, maybe I feel good and surprise myself.

“My early season goals are to get back and feel comfortable in the peloton again. We will also know in these couple of days if we get into the Giro d’Italia. Right now there's nothing with too much of a high expectation on my shoulders but I will definitely give my absolute best to make the team."

It is thought that the Giro d’Italia wildcard announcement could come next week, although RCS Sport is still to confirm the exact date.

After Gabon Augustyn is due to ride the Tour de Langkawi in Malaysia and the Giro del Trentino in Italy.

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