MTN-Qhubeka pleased with his progress
The heat of Malaysia finally got to John-Lee Augustyn (MTN-Qhubeka) and he decided to put a premature end to his Tour de Langkawi during stage 7 on Wednesday.
The South African has been suffering a little for the last couple of days and thought he had got through the worst of it, but the 230km stage proved to be too much for him. "He was feeling ok this morning, but I think as the day got longer and the heat got hotter, he just started feeling not so good. It's really frustrating for him and for us," said his directeur sportif Kevin Campbell.
"I think it was just a combination of the heat and the miles. Obviously we've done a lot of travelling to get here and it’s all caught up with him. It's the difference between training a lot and racing at this intensity."
Despite struggling with the temperatures, which have rarely dropped below 30°, aside from in the morning, he has been playing the support role for his teammates Merhawi Kudus and Louis Meintjes who are both in the top ten, with Kudus in second place. With three more stages still to run, Campbell says Augustyn will be missed out on the road.
"He was really riding well in the sense that he was supporting well," the DS explained. "Even when he was really struggling he was going back and fetching bottles. In fact he knew that he was going to drop out so he went back and fetched one more lot of bottles, brought them back and then sat up. He's a really good team guy and he’s really committed to the cause. It’s unfortunate, but it was just 30km to far for him today.
Augustyn is only in his second race since returning from a self imposed break from the sport to recover from a number of injury problems. The South African spoke to Cyclingnews earlier in the week saying that he was glad to be back in the mix of competition, but that it might take some time to get back to his old level. Campbell seconded that, but said that he has been pleased with how the 27-year-old has progressed in the early part of the season.
"He was riding really well. He had done some mountain bike races so he was used to doing some long miles, and good training but we knew the acid test would be the racing," he said to Cyclingnews. "It's a shame the he didn't finish this race, but he's showing steady progress all the time. He said that he was feeling better this tour than he felt in Gabon, from a racing speed perspective. He's definitely getting back into shape, but we know that it will probably be a full season before he gets back to competitive John-Lee again."
Augustyn will remain with the team in Langkawi until the race finishes on Sunday, before he returns to his home in Italy.
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