Giro d'Italia: Vinokourov ready to go for pink
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Thursday, May 6, 2010

Giro d'Italia: Vinokourov ready to go for pink

by VeloNation Press at 7:23 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Giro d'Italia

Alexandre VinokourovAlexandre Vinokourov is just two days away from starting his first Giro d'Italia, and will be coming into the race with confidence from recent performances in Italy and Belgium.  Just three weeks ago the Kazakh took his first major wins since returning from a two-year doping suspension.  His streak started with the opening 12.5km time trial in the Giro del Trentino.  It was there where he laid the foundation to secure the overall victory in the four-day race.  He followed it up with his second triumph in Liège-Bastogne-Liège with a well-timed attack in the closing kilometers.

During a press conference today in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, Vinokourov confirmed that he's ready to test his legs in the year's first Grand Tour.  "My legs are fine, ready, and I have no pressure, but above all I'm very motivated. It is the first time I will race the Giro d'Italia and I have come to ride well and gain experience in this race," he said.

He played down his performance in Liège-Bastogne-Liège as a barometer for how his Giro d'Italia might turn out:  "You can not compare a one-day race with a three-week race they are completely different. I have a good physical condition, but the mountain stages will be very hard."

At the Giro del Trentino Vinokourov was able to follow the attacks in the mountain stages to preserve his race lead, but the race was less than a week.  In 2006 he won the Vuelta a España, which showed that he can hold himself together for a Grand Tour.  He's said he will take the race as it comes since his endurance over three weeks is still a question mark.  His best chance to grab the Malia Rosa will be in the opening prologue.

Alexandre Vinokourov"It would mean a lot for me to wear the pink jersey. It would be like a dream come true, and I have a chance to get it with the first stage's opening time trial," he explained.  "I will then look for opportunities to win stages. Those are my goals: to win a stage and to wear pink for a few days, but not necessarily to win the Giro [overall]."

Vinokourov said he hasn't marked out any particular stages to go for a win.  He understands that with a three week Tour it's not possible to pick your places when you're not a sprinter.  Instead he will do what has worked for him in the past - watch his opponents and attack when the time is right.  "At my age, I know what I have to do and when I have to do it," he explained.  "I've proven that in Liège-Bastogne-Liège. I know my time [to go for a win] will come. Sometimes you have to know when to wait for your turn [to attack] without using all your strength and wearing yourself down before the finish."

He describes this year's Giro d'Italia as "very complicated and demanding", and expects the onslaught of mountain stages to be challenging with respect to managing your effort and recovery.  "With so many difficult mountains you can make big differences in a single stage," he said, "so it is very tempting to try to do damage in a single day, but we must beware of surprises. These stages can do a lot of harm to us all. To any of us. No one is immune to failure."

The Astana team has ridden well this year, and he doesn't expect the team time trial to be a problem:  "Physically, my teammates are very complete and will do everything possible to bring us up as much as possible in the overall standings."

Vinokourov sees several riders with a chance to make their mark in the corsa rosa.  He tips Ivan Basso (Liquigas-Doimo), Cadel Evans (BMC Racing), Damiano Cunego (Lampre) as the main favorites, but names riders like former Giro winner Stefano Garzelli (Acqua e Sapone) and double stage winner and third place overall last year Carlos Sastre (Cervelo TestTeam) as possible threats.

"Cadel Evans has shown that he is in great shape and the Giro d'Italia is one of his main objectives before tackling the Tour de France. He rides very well in the Grand Tours, and is a rider that has a lot of experience. He is the most dangerous."

The Kazakh closed the interview out by saying he would be satisfied if he finished on the podium.


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