Team Sky’s Augustyn looking for strong showing in Vuelta a Burgos
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Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Team Sky’s Augustyn looking for strong showing in Vuelta a Burgos

by Conal Andrews at 6:59 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
Talented South African climber building form after difficult start to the season

John Lee AugustynNow feeling that he’s back on course after a knee injury and illness, John Lee Augustyn is hoping to be one of Team Sky’s top riders in the Vuelta a Burgos, which begins today.

The 23 year old South African would probably rather forget the incident, but he is best known to many Tour de France viewers as the Barloworld rider who went off road on the descent of the Col de la Bonette in the 2008 Tour de France, skidding down a scree-lined slope and earning some of the most dramatic TV footage of the race.

He had crested the climb first and could otherwise have fought it out for the stage win.

Augustyn is a former Tour of Japan runner-up and winner of the mountains classification in the Volta ao Alentejo. He’s regarded as a very promising rider but hasn’t had much luck this year due to knee problems. However twelfth in the Tour of Austria showed that things were getting back on track, even if he was forced to then pull out of the Brixia Tour due to illness.

He’s looking forward to the chance to seeing what he can do in the Vuelta a Burgos. “The type of racing you get in Spain has always suited me and I've had some of my best results there,” he said. “For some reason my body just seems to respond to the terrain we ride and hopefully it'll be the same this time around. I'd like to try and push it really hard and see how far I can go.”

Augustyn is happy to be able to race unhindered again after injury earlier this season. “It has been rough for me since the start of the year,” he said. “The problems in my knee stemmed from my shoe set-up, which meant I couldn't get comfortable on the bike.

"When I was back in South Africa I met up with a specialist in inner sole technology and after trying a few things out I started feeling better right away. It still took time to get used to my new set-up though and when I came back to Europe I found the first few races really hard. It was nice to get back into the swing of things though, both mentally and well as physically.”

The results of that were seen in the Tour of Austria. “I was feeling really good again there,” he said. “I cycled to sixth place on the second stage and that also meant I got to wear the young rider's jersey for a few days. That was definitely the highlight of my season so far and I ended up in 12th overall.”

However a virus caused him to pull out of the Brixia Tour, temporarily disrupting his efforts to further build his form.

Augustyn went into the Clasica San Sebastián without much racing in his legs, but felt that he did fine despite that. He finished 81st in the race, drifting back towards the end due to a lack of endurance. “I was pleasantly surprised by my performance,” he said. “I felt strong for most of the day and it was only in the final 30km that I began to struggle.At 240km it was perhaps a bit too long for me, but it was good training for the races to come and I was happy to battle on to the finish line.”

The Vuelta a Burgos begins today with a 143 kilometre stage from Villasana de Mena to Medina de Pomar. A bunch sprint is expected, with the race then becoming progressively tougher as it heads towards Sunday’s final stage.

Augustyn will be joined by Sylvain Calzati, Dario Cioni, Nicolas Portal, Morris Possoni, Kurt-Asle Arvesen, Chris Froome and Davide Viganò on the Team Sky squad for the 2.HC event.


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