Alexandre Vinokourov to support Janez Brajkovič in Astana’s Tour de France team
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Thursday, June 21, 2012

Alexandre Vinokourov to support Janez Brajkovič in Astana’s Tour de France team

by Ben Atkins at 11:43 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
 
Both riders aiming to make up for crashing out of 2011 race

alexander vinokourovTeam Astana has announced its roster for next month’s Tour de France, with Alexander Vinokourov at its head once more. The Kazakh veteran will not be the sole leader in the race however, but will be riding in support of the overall ambitions of Slovenian teammate Janez Brajkovič.

Both riders crashed out of last year’s race; Brajkovič - then riding for RadioShack - came down in a crash on stage six, injuring his knee and taking a blow to the head. Vinokourov was one of many victims of a slippery corner on the descent of the Col du Pas de Peyrol on stage nine; he fractured his femur and initially announced his retirement, before retracting the statement shortly afterwards.

The team will be guided by the experienced hand of Giuseppe Martinelli once more, who was behind the wheel during Marco Pantani’s Giro/Tour double in 1998, and then for the Giro victories of Stefan Garzelli, Gilberto Simoni and Damiano Cunego.

“I think I have got a very competitive team here,” he said. “Our goal is to play a major role every single day, both in the transition stages and in the most prestigious finales. We will also have our eyes on the general classification, but we know that we are not the favourites.
 
“Vinokurov is our team captain, our charismatic leader,” he continued, “and his experience will doubtless be a huge help to everyone. After the accident last year, he has given 100% to get himself ready for this Tour and there is every reason to believe that he might do well.
 
“Brajkovič will be our man for the GC but I do not want to set any specific goals for him. I know that he will give everything to get a good result, both for himself and for the team. [Robert] Kiserlovski, meanwhile, has had a good season so far and been competitive in every race that he has been in; he cannot fail to carry on this form at the Tour and maybe get the win that has so far eluded him this year.

“[Andriy] Grivko and [Dmitriy] Fofonov will be our team players, doing the work that you do not see on television but that is indispensable for the team – although that does not mean that they cannot get into a couple of major breaks and shake up the race.
 
“[Borut] Bozič is our unconventional sprinter, not only for the sprint finishes but also when sprinting out of a small group after long-distance breakaways. [Andriy] Kashechkin will help Jani in the high mountain stages and could aim for a good personal result in the others. Lastly, Maxim Iglinskiy won the Liège and is here to go after stage victories, which he is very well equipped to do.”

As a veteran of eight Tours de France in his often controversial 14-year career, Vinokourov has experience of finishing on the podium. Underwhelming results this season so far would certainly not point to a repeat of his 2003 third place, but he is confident that he will arrive on the Liège start line in the best form possible.

“We have definitely got a strong and highly motivated team,” he said. “Martinelli has done – and is doing – a great job with our riders. Personally, my form has been improving every day since the Dauphiné. I recently did a series of training sessions in mountains and saw some good signs.

“After last year’s unfortunate experience, I am going to the Tour with the aim of winning a stage – hopefully in the Pyrenees – and to help Jani for the general classification, while also preparing as well as possible for the Olympics.”

Astana Team for the Tour de France
Alexandr Vinokurov, Jani Brajkovič, Borut Bozič, Dmitry Fofonov, Andriy Grivko, Maxim Iglinskiy, Andrey Kashechkin, Fredrik Kessiakoff and Robert Kiserlovski

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