Vinokourov wants pink in Giro d'Italia, hopes to ride Tour de France
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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Vinokourov wants pink in Giro d'Italia, hopes to ride Tour de France

by VeloNation Press at 9:32 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France, Giro d'Italia

Alexandre VinokourovYesterday's Giro del Trentino opening time trial saw Astana's Alexandre Vinokourov notch up his third win since returning from his two-year doping ban.  The Kazakh is currently building form for his participation in the Giro d'Italia, with yesterday's win confirming his preparations are on track.  Vinokourov put 35 seconds into former Giro winner Ivan Basso during the 12.5 kilometer test, and said that he will aim for the coveted maglia rosa this May.

"I'm not talking about final victory," Vinokourov told Sporza Wednesday.  "I don't want to put too much pressure on myself, because the third week of the Giro [d'Italia] is tough," he explained.

Vinokourov came back to cycling last season after serving a ban for blood doping in the 2007 edition of the Tour de France. He has ridden well since returning, showing strong end of season form last year with solid attacks in the world championships and the Tour of Lombardy.  He finished out the year on a high note, with a win in the Chrono des Nations time trial.

This year Vinokourov rode well in the Tour of the Mediterranean, finishing fifth in the overall, and followed it up with a strong performance in the Critérium International riding for his team leader Alberto Contador.

Last year he completed the first eleven stages of the Vuelta a España and performed well in both of the time trials he contested.  With his win yesterday, he is in with a chance to grab the Giro d'Italia's leader's jersey at the opening 8.5 kilometer time trial in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

"I do not talk about winning [the Giro d'Italia]," he repeated, "but I would certainly [aim to] wear the pink jersey for one day. That would be nice for my collection."

Alberto ContadorFollowing his Giro participation he will then focus on the Tour de France in July.  Specifically, he will ride to help his teammate and defending champion Alberto Contador secure a third Tour crown.

"I want to help Contador get the victory," he said.

He assumes race organizers, the Amaury Sports Organization [ASO], will allow him to take the start this July:  "Have my issues with the organizers of the Tour [de France] been solved? I have served my sentence with my suspension," Vinokourov concluded.

If race organizers were to refuse a start to the Kazakh it would be a huge blow to Contador.  The whole of Astana's 2009 Tour de France team left for seven-time Tour winner Lance Armstrong's new RadioShack squad in the off-season, meaning Astana now has a Grand Tour team that is unproven and will lack the firepower they had last year.  The ASO will want an exciting race between the two champions, and knowing Vinokourov's presence could improve the Spaniard's chances will certainly be a factor in the outcome.


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