Emotional Vinokourov talks about his return
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Sunday, April 25, 2010

Emotional Vinokourov talks about his return

by Jered Gruber at 4:29 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Spring Classics, Liège-Bastogne-Liège

Alexandre Vinokourov's victory today at Liege-Bastogne-Liege might go down as one of the more unpopular victories in recent memory, but Vinokourov's comments in the moments following the race were an emotional, honest occasion. He doesn't come out and admit that he doped previously during his career, but he does seem to want to lay a questionable past to rest.

"[I feel] an immense happiness! Since my comeback in August of 2009, I dreamed of a great victory that would give credit to my decision to return to competition. I always said that if I came back, it was not to make up the number. My win today is the reward for all the sacrifices I made to become one of the best of the bunch. It is a dream! Today, I just showed the true Vinokourov. Vino has class [as a rider]."

When asked about his return and how his two year suspension has affected him he replied in stunning fashion:

"I have turned the page now, and I do not want to to return to it. I can also win without doping, and that is most important. I have been working since last year for you, the journalists, and fans, to trust me again. This victory is revenge for me."

The questions were pointed, but Vinokourov was calm in his responses. When asked if he condemned doping today, he was nearly incredulous:

"Why would I not? Obviously, we must fight doping. Some still play with fire, but we must work to achieve something. That is why I want to show what I do now. As for 2007? I do not want to return to it. I served my two year suspension. We're here to talk about my victory."

And rightly so, it was an incredible effort from a rider who wishes to make amends and to return to his position as one of the most aggressive riders in the pro peloton, a name synonymous with hard work and putting it all on the line.

"I feel very emotional. To win again in Liege five years after my first win is a dream. For me and for my team and Kazakhstan. After the Giro del Trentino, I told myself: "Why not win Liege-Bastogne-Liege?" And then I wondered if I would be able to recover properly. I wanted to stay in bed. But in the end, I gave everything I had, and with my experience, I succeeded."

In our current climate of justified doubt, it's hard not to wonder aloud about what's going on, especially from someone who defined the term unrepentant when he left the sport over two years ago. In the press conference following the race, a journalist asked about his quick return to prominence following his suspension. What is your secret he asked.

"It's just the class. When you have it, you have it. I showed last year already at the World Championships and the Giro di Lombardia that I was good. I worked hard in the mountains, and I trained often for seven hours or more. I never stopped working out despite my suspension. At no time did I cease being a cyclist. I've never cracked. I wanted to show that I could win without doping."

Up next for Vinokourov will be his first ever start at the Giro d'Italia, a race that he is very excited to be participating in:

"I have often said, at my age, it is more difficult to target a victory over a great ride. By winning the Giro Trentino this week just before coming to Liege, I was afraid that I had dug too deep into my reserves. But then today was amazing, finally, I was still strong and it's a good sign for the Giro.

This is the first time in my careeer that I will participate in the race, and I'm going with ambitions. I cannot forget that even before I returned last August, Angelo Zomegnan, the organizer of the Giro, immediately said that I would be welcomed to his event.

It is therefore with pride, that I will head to the Giro. In addition, with this win today, it opens new perspectives."


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