Augustyn unhurt in spectacular plunge

John-Lee Augustyn (Barloworld)

John-Lee Augustyn (Barloworld) (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

By Daniel Benson in Jausiers, France

What do Frederico Bahamontes, Robert Millar and John-Lee Augustyn all have in common? Still thinking? Well let Cyclingnews put you out of your misery. All three, and only those three have lead the race over today's final climb of the Col de la Bonette-Restefond. However unlike his esteemed colleagues, the young South African, riding his first Tour de France spectacularly crashed on the descent and was lucky to escape with just minor cuts.

"I could not see how far I was going to fall at one point as it looked like a straight drop. It was so scary and everything flashed before me. I remember sliding across the road, trying to stop and my bike just kept on going," he said on lucky escape.

Augustyn misjudged a bend and was launched up and over the earthen berm at the edge of the road. He then slid down the loose, rocky slope for 30 metres before coming to a stop on a firm boulder.

It was an anti-climactic end after such a promising attack on the last climb. "I didn't have strong legs this morning but as the day went on I started feeling better and better. I was motivating myself the whole time, telling myself I could do it and that's what gave me the impetus to attack."

Augustyn's decisive move came within the final kilometre and he briefly held the lead until being caught on the long and winding descent into Jausiers. "I was holding onto Popo's wheel but I took the wrong line and that's when I crashed," he added. With spectators coming to his aid and despite the wait for a new bike he still felt he could have gone on to take the win. "I was confident, even though they caught me. I could have still won."

Today's mishap was Augustyn's second major crash in the last two years. He crashed heavily in the Tour of Portugal and broke his femur last season.

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