Vinokourov building towards one last Tour de France
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Thursday, April 19, 2012

Vinokourov building towards one last Tour de France

by Shane Stokes at 12:46 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
Astana leader and team will begin Presidential Tour of Turkey on Sunday

Alexandre VinokourovAlexandre Vinokourov has confirmed that he will ride one final Tour de France before his retirement from the sport, thus returning to the race he crashed out of last season.

The Astana rider’s statement comes as he prepares for the Presidential Tour of Turkey, which begins on Sunday.

“I’m still a little bit short [of form] but don’t expect me to be in the grupetto,” he said, talking about his position heading into the 2.HC tour. “I still have two months of training before the Tour de France.”

Vinokourov fell during last year’s race, going off the road and hitting a tree during the ninth stage. He broke his femur in the incident. The Kazakhstani insisted afterwards that he would not return to the race, and announced his retirement on July 17th.

He later backtracked on this, saying that he would ride one more season to help his Astana team which needed his points. However he said that he’d be sticking to his plan not to compete again in the Tour.

That has now changed and the 38 year old will be at the race start in Liège on June 30th. Apart from wanting to ride with flair in his final participation, he’ll also likely use it to prepare for the Olympic Games.

Team to take ambitious approach in Turkey:

Vinokourov might not currently be the strongest of the Astana riders, with his form still rebuilding after his crash and recovery. However he believes the team can make a major impression on the event.

“Twenty-five teams would be at the start. Ours, Astana, will try to do well. We’re ambitious on both fronts, as regards the overall and stage wins,” he said.

“We hope for Valentin Iglinskiy to achieve the same feat as last year [he won a stage – ed.]. We’re actually going with three sprinters as we also have Assab Bazayev and Jacopo Guarnieri.”

This year’s race is more mountainous than in the past and it means that sprinters will no longer be in a position to fight for the general classification. That’s not an issue: Vinokourov says that others will be able to have those aims.

“I see the Tour of Turkey as a perfect test for the Giro d’Italia,” he said. “Our GC riders Alexandr Dyachenko and Andrey Zeits will be looking for overall victory.”

Zeits finished second to the Russian Alexandre Efimkin (Team Type 1) last year. He’s returning with bigger ambitions this time round and, like Dyachenko, has been riding solidly this season. The latter was fourth in the Tour de Langkawi in March, while Zeits was eighth.

Vinokourov also rode but had a quiet race. He then went on to the Coppi e Bartali race in Italy, where he was eighteenth in the time trial. “Since then, I trained well around Monaco,” he said.

“I’m really looking forward to start the Tour of Turkey. It’s a beautiful race. I raced there in the past… It was in 1995 with the Kazakh team and we won the overall with Vadim Kravchenko, our country’s great track specialist. For this reason, I’m glad to return to Turkey.”

Astana team for the Presidential Tour of Turkey:

Assan Bazayev, Alexandr Dyachenko, Dimitri Gruzdev, Jacopo Guarnieri, Valentin Igliskiy, Evgeni Nepomnyachshiy, Alexandre Vinokourov and Andrey Zeits.


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