Vinokourov says form is finally coming, on attack in Turkey
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Monday, April 23, 2012

Vinokourov says form is finally coming, on attack in Turkey

by VeloNation Press at 4:31 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
Astana leader ‘can retire quietly’ due to rise of Iglinskiy and others

Alexander VinokourovA muted presence in many of the races he has competed in thus far this year, Alexandre Vinokourov sparked into action on the second stage of the Presidential Tour of Turkey and was clear for much of the stage in the day’s main break.

The Astana leader appeared to have been inspired by Maxim Iglinskiy’s victory in yesterday’s Liège-Bastogne-Liège Classic, going clear in the day’s main break and remaining out front until minutes before the finish.

The move kicked clear 48 kilometres into the 153 kilometre stage from Alanya to Antalya. The 38 year old joined forces with Laslo Bodrogi (TT1 Sanofi), who had been in an earlier, unsuccessful move, plus Laurent Pichon (Brittany Schuller), Paolo Locatelli (Colnago CSF - Bardiani) and Matteo Fedi (Utensilnord - Named).

Vinokourov took the intermediate sprint in Manavgat (km 53.7), beating Locatelli to the line. The gap grew over a lethargic peloton, yawning out to five minutes at kilometre 93, but the sprinters’ teams the knuckled down and brought it back five kilometres from the line.

Opportunity missed, in other words, but Vinokourov said afterwards that he was still satisfied with the day’s events. “My attack was not planned. A rider broke clear and I jumped in his wheel. It’s important to feel that the form is coming back,” he said. “I had also surged in the finale of the Tour of Langkawi’s last stage but it was a short effort. Today was my first break of the season.”

Indeed, Vinokourov appeared to be in decent shape, taking long turns at the front as the bunch drew steadily closer to the escape. A victory would have been ideal for him, of course, but the sensation that his condition is getting to where he wants it to be is encouraging by itself.

In ways, so too the realization that other riders from the country are now also performing strongly. “The atmosphere in the team is great after Maxim Iglinskiy’s victory in Liege-Bastogne-Liege. It confirmed what I believe -- that Kazakh riders are capable of taking over from me and that I can retire quietly,” he said.

It’s worth remembering that he had to continue this season as without his points, the Astana team would have missed out on a WorldTour licence. Vinokourov had originally said that he would retire after crashing in last year’s Tour and breaking his femur, but he’s now committed to one final year in the bunch.

He recently indicated that he will indeed ride the Tour one more time, having indicated before that he might not take part.

The Presidential Tour of Turkey now moves onto more difficult terrain after two relatively flat stages. In his prime, tomorrow’s stage to the first category, 1850 metre climb of Elmali would have suited his aggressive instincts, but he is looking to other riders on the team to perform.

“Tomorrow, for the mountain finish, we’ll rely on Alexandr Dyachenko and Andriy Zeits. They showed their climbing skills this year in the Tour of Langkawi,” he said, referring to riders who were 4th and 8th there.


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