Prudhomme says no problems with Vinokourov in the Tour de France
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Sunday, April 25, 2010

Prudhomme says no problems with Vinokourov in the Tour de France

by VeloNation Press at 3:33 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France, Spring Classics, Liège-Bastogne-Liège
 

Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme has laid rest to any doubts as to whether Astana’s Alexandre Vinokourov will be welcome at the event this coming July.  He returned to racing last year after a two-year suspension for blood doping during the 2007 Tour, and there have been questions about whether he would be permitted to take the start.  The Kazakh arguably took the most important victory of his career today when he won Liège-Bastogne-Liège for the second time.

"This is fantastic, something I had not expected,” a tearful Vinokourov told dpa after the race.  “This is revenge for me and a very important victory. I have proven that this [a big win] can still be expected from me."

Vinokourov has maintained his innocence in the doping case against him, and had no problems with returning to the Astana team for which he secured the funding.  He implied he was guilty to AFP after the race when asked about the subject:  “Of course I condemn [doping]. It’s also why I’m back. I know there are still some riders that ride with it [doping] today. It’s wrong.  I have paid. Now I look to the future.”

The Amaury Sports Organization (ASO) organize both Liège-Bastogne-Liège and the Tour de France, and didn’t raise any issue with the Astana rider taking the start today – nor will they in July.

"[In cycling] It is just like it is in real life: Vinokourov has made a mistake, was punished, served his ban and has returned," Prudhomme said after his win, adding that “the name of Vinokourov causes no problems” with respect to his presences on the Astana Tour de France squad.

Vinokourov has said that he will dedicate his efforts this July towards securing his teammate Alberto Contador a third Tour de France crown.  The whole of last year’s Astana Tour team moved over to seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong’s new RadioShack formation.  That left Contador with a major disadvantage since Astana was forced to cobble together a Grand Tour team late in the off-season.  Aside from Contador, the Kazakh will be the strongest rider on Astana’s Tour de France team, and his presence will help tip the scales to the Spaniard’s advantage for a title defense.

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