'Vino is Back', but will Astana be his home?
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Thursday, July 2, 2009

'Vino is Back', but will Astana be his home?

by VeloNation Press at 7:25 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France, Doping
Kazakh cyclist Alexandre Vinokourov called a press conference at team Astana's hotel coinciding with this year's Grand Depart for the Tour de France in Monaco. Donning a yellow t-shirt with the words "Vino is Back" emblazoned on it, the man who was kicked out of the same race just two years ago after testing positive for blood transfusions announced his return to the sport.

Vinokourov, 35, has maintained his innocence, and with the Vice President of the Kazakhstan Cycling Federation at his side, made it clear that when his ban ends on July 24 he expects to ride for Johan Bruyneel's Astana team.

The cyclist said, "I will resume my career on July 24 and I do not see myself riding for a team other than Astana.

"The Kazakh Cycling Federation wants me to ride for Astana. They are negotiating with Johan Bruyneel, and I think we will reach agreement in the coming week.

"It's a team that was created for me in 2006. This is our baby."

The Kazakh said he is looking to ride the Tour of Poland, the Tour of Spain, and the World Championships in Mendrisio. He wants to repair his tarnished image, and he said that will take some time, also revealing that he would like to ride the Tour de France again.

"I give myself one or two years to restore my image," he added.

No comments have been made by Bruyneel, and he might leave this alone until after the Tour is finished. There is a sense that there will be some major fallout, as the Belgian has worked hard to clean up the team's image after the scandal in 2007. If he refuses to take on Vinokourov, then the embattled cyclist is of the opinion that he will no longer run the team.

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