South African John-Lee Augustyn, who joined MTN-Qhubeka over the winter after a two-year, injury-forced break, has announced his retirement from professional bike racing.
A team release said Augustyn, 27, experienced “disabling” pain in his right knee earlier this year, which was then traced back to the lingering problem in his left hip that he had surgically repaired in 2011 following a 2007 crash. The knee issue kept Augustyn out of racing and even though his bike fit was altered to a more comfortable position, he has not been able to return to the high level of training and racing that comes with being a pro cyclist, according to the release.
“To be honest I have really been struggling to get back into it again especially with a hip resurfacing, it is not easy,” Augustyn said in the release. “I can train for hours and hours, my leg feels like a normal leg but as soon as I start to race hard up at the front on the pro level I just struggle and keep on injuring myself, particularly in the cold conditions. This mentally can break you, I have learned to pick myself back up many times but after six years of struggling it becomes hard.
“I have a family to support and I am ready now to sadly move on and build a more stable future. I still have a big passion for cycling and I will continue to stay in the cycling world and support this beautiful sport. I will definitely continue to ride my bike on and off road.”
Augustyn made his return to racing at La Tropicale Amissa Bongo in January, and then competed at the South African National Championships and the Tour de Langkawi. He experienced the knee pain in stage 7 at Langkawi, however, and underwent a battery of tests to determine the cause.
“I have had a hard time over the last few years in my cycling career suffering with ongoing injuries,” Augustyn said in the release. “I decided to take an indefinite break for about a year and I then started riding again and the bug bit really bad to get back to racing.
“I slowly got back into the rhythm of racing, I still have the experience of racing in the bunch and up at the front but I can feel that I am not the same anymore.”
Hip problems forced Augustyn off his bike in the spring of 2012, and he opened a bike shop with his brother during his hiatus from racing. Late last year, however, Augustyn sold the shop to focus on his comeback. MTN announced that it signed him in December.