You may not realise it. But if you’ve been following cycling for a while, you know South African cyclist, John Lee Augustyn. Perhaps just not by name.
Augustyn is that poor bastard who overshot a corner during Stage 16 of the 2008 Tour de France whilst riding for Team Barloworld. He ran off the road and proceeded to slide about 50m down a shale mountainside. When he eventually stopped he then had considerable trouble getting back up again. All caught live on international television.
Despite his considerable troubles that day, he recovered to finish 35th on the stage and a highly creditable 45th for the Tour overall. But what happened after that?
Augustyn signed a two-year deal with the fledgling Team Sky in 2010, but really struggled with injury in his time at Sky. He ultimately required a hip operation, the aftermath of which went rather badly.
“After removing the plate and screws after the operation, the blood flow to the head of the femur must have broken and that started to cause the osteonecrosis where the bone starts to die,” said Augustyn in a news report back in June 2013. “At the beginning of 2011 I battled to sleep and walk.”
A gauntlet of scans and tests followed, and Augustyn eventually decided to take an indefinite break from racing. He returned to South Africa and did what anyone in his position would do: yes, he opened a bike shop.
More than 12 months on he’s regaining fitness and back on the bike, primarily cross-training and racing on the domestic MTB circuit in South Africa. As his comeback gains momentum he’s set to line up at the seven-day 550-kilometre Bridge Cape Pioneer Trek international mountain bike stage race this Sunday.
Still only 27, Augustyn still harbours a desire to return to the Pro Tour ranks and the Tour de France. We wish him well.