John-Lee Augustyn will return to the professional peloton in 2014 in the colours of MTN-Qhubeka. The South African took an indefinite break from cycling in May of last year in a bid to recover from an ongoing hip problem and did not race on the road this season.
Augustyn’s hip injury dates back to 2007, when he damaged the head of his femur in a crash. Although he recovered sufficiently to ride the Tour de France for Barloworld in 2008 and earn a move to Team Sky in 2010, Augustyn scarcely raced in 2011 and underwent hip resurfacing in a bid to correct the problem.
Augustyn left Sky for Utensilnord-Named in 2012, but raced just once for his new team before announcing that he was rescinding his contract and following medical advice by taking an extended period of time off his bike.
The 27-year-old returned to serious training in Italy earlier this year, and made his comeback at the Crater Cruise and Cape Pioneer Trek international mountain bike races in South Africa last month. On Monday MTN-Qhubeka officially announced Augustyn's addition to the roster for 2014. The team has already signed another man who sat out the 2013 season, Linus Gerdemann.
“I feel I am back where I belong. To be a professional bike rider is a privilege and I’m very proud to be a member of a team from my own country,” Augustyn said. “I’m really happy and motivated. My family and I have made tough choices and sacrifices in the last few years and now they are paying off.”
MTN-Qhubeka this season became the first African-registered squad at Pro Continental level, and enjoyed instant success by winning Milan-San Remo with Gerald Ciolek. The 2014 MTN-Qhubeka roster will feature 17 African riders, including new arrival Daniel Teklhaimanot, who arrives from Orica-GreenEdge.
“When I joined Sky as a start up team, they were very innovative and did new things in cycling. I see Team MTN-Qhubeka as the same with taking African riders and giving them the best scientific support in all departments to become the best in the world,” Augustyn said. “I’ve seen the support all the back up staff give and can see the riders really appreciate it as it is world class.”
MTN-Qhubeka team principal Doug Ryder welcomed Augustyn’s arrival at the team. He said that Augustyn’s hip injury is no longer a concern and he is hopeful that the South African can recapture the climbing form of his spell at Barloworld and Sky.
“We have done a thorough check on his health and he is ready and motivated to get back to the highest levels of world cycling again and we are happy we can give him this chance,” Ryder said. “He is very positive for next year and his experience will go a long way in supporting and mentoring our team as we make our bid to race in the grand tours of world cycling.”