By Greg Johnson
Staring into the eyes of adversity, a courageous Darren Lapthorne has sported a brave face as he returns to professional cycling. Lapthorne is making his return to the peloton following the worst of tragedies.
Having broken into the European peloton in 2008, it was always destined to be a big year for Darren Lapthorne. The journey would, however, take a tragic twist in late September. Just days after receiving a concerned call from his parents, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trading (DFAT) would inform the Lapthorne family that the former Australian Open Road Champion's sister, Britt, who was travelling through Croatia at the time, had been declared a missing person. It was a call that would lead to the grisly discovery of Britt Lapthorne's body floating off a resort in Dubrovnik, Croatia, weeks later.
Darren had immediately ceased racing and training efforts when news of his sister's disappearance surfaced. His German squad Team Sparkasse fully supported Darren's dash to Croatia, where he would be joined by father Dale in the search for Britt.
"As soon as I heard my sister was missing I informed my team: they were great, they also supported me and told me to get down there straight away, that family is the most important thing," he said. "I still had a few races that my name was down for, but it was absolutely no problem, Team Sparkasse supported me. I didn't even think about riding when I heard my sister was missing.
"I was prepared to stay in Croatia for as long as it took to find my sister," added Lapthorne. "If that had been a few weeks, like it was, or even longer, like years, cycling is definitely not that important. The priority was to find my sister, I wasn't thinking about the bike at all."
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