8 January 2014
John-Lee Augustyn, once a fast-rising star in the world of cycling, will make his return to the sport and the professional peloton after well-documented injury woes disrupted his promising career with a first appearance for Team MTN-Qhubeka in the La Tropicale Amissa Bongo race.
The event takes place in Gabon from 13 January and Augustyn is very motivated and hoping to make a positive contribution to Africa’s only Pro Continental cycling outfit.
Team MTN-Qhubeka enjoyed a very successful first year in the Pro Continental ranks in 2013, highlighted by Gerald Ciolek’s victory in the Milan-San Remo. The team was also second among Pro Continental teams in terms of victories.
“My training has been going really well. I’ve been feeling good on the bike as well,” Augustyn said in a statement from Italy on Tuesday.
“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 said he is very happy with his condition for this time of the year and is looking forward to building gradually through the coming months.
“My goal is to get back into the racing side of things and be there to support the team as much as I can. I will then take it from there on, maybe I feel good and surprise myself.”
His programme after Gabon includes Le Tour de Langkawi and the Giro del Trentino among others.
“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 not too much of a high expectation on my shoulders, but I will definitely give my absolute best to make the team,” Augustyn concluded.
Before injuries derailed his career, Augustyn made his mark with Team Barloworld and captured headlines around the world during the 2008 Tour de France when, after cresting the Col de la Bonette in first place he failed to negotiate a hairpin bend and fell 30 metres down a slippery, shale mountainside before scrambling back to the road and finishing the stage.
Having shone with the South African-sponsored team, he subsequently moved to the powerful Team Sky squad, but injuries, including a debilitating hip problem, led to his decision to take an indefinite break from cycling in May 2012.