Vinokourov: “The Giro is for me and the Tour is for Contador”
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Thursday, May 13, 2010

Vinokourov: “The Giro is for me and the Tour is for Contador”

by Ben Atkins at 10:07 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Giro d'Italia
 
Kazakh pledges support for teammate

aleaxandre vinokourovAstana team leader Alexandre Vinokourov has once again confirmed that he will ride the Tour de France this coming July in the service of defending champion Alberto Contador. In an interview with Reuters, the Kazakh looked to put an end to rumours that the Astana team at the 2010 Tour de France could potentially be as divided as the one at the 2009 race. In last year’s Tour the conflict between race leader Contador and seven-time winner Lance Armstrong made more headlines than the racing on the road, this year will be different, says Vinokourov.

"In the past I was meant to win as a team leader in the Tour de France,” he said of the Astana team, set up by him with investors from his native Kazakhstan, “but this year I have a different purpose. I came to the Giro in my 'peak' form, so the Giro is my number one goal, and at the Tour my goal is to help Alberto Contador.

“So I'll take the Giro,” he added confidently. “I will take a break and go to the Tour,”

Although he enjoyed a great deal of success in the Tour de France and Vuelta a España before his two year suspension for blood-doping, this is the Kazakh’s first attempt at the Giro. Despite finishing fourth in Saturday’s stage 1 time trial, the crashes and splits in the peloton caused by crosswinds and Dutch road furniture, he was a slightly unexpected race leader as the race left the Netherlands for Italy.

"To wear the maglia rosa in my first Giro is more than I could have dreamed of,” he said before yesterday’s team time trial, “but it remains to be seen if we keep it, because there is still a long way to Verona do not want to 'kill' to my team,"

The latter stages of the race "will be really hard" he says and therefore it would be best "to preserve the strength" of the other Astana riders.

Team time trial was not so bad after all

In the event the Astana team lost 38 seconds to the Liquigas-Doimo team, and Vinokourov lost the race lead to Vincenzo Nibali. The team’s losses might have been less though had the team not fallen apart in the closing stages with Slovenian Gorazd Stangelj unable to keep pace. Vinokourov could be seen shaking his head in disbelief at Stangelj as the team crossed the line, but was more reflective after the stage.

"This is not so bad," said Vinokourov of the time deficit in Wielerupdate.nl. "The team rode well, we started in poor conditions at the beginning and we lost time because of rain. Then everything went well until the last kilometre, where our last rider [Stangelj] was struggling and we lost ten to fifteen seconds. But whatever else happens, this is a good result for the future. The mountains come Sunday and I'm glad I got to ride in the pink jersey for one day."

Vinokourov now sits in sixth place overall, 33 seconds behind Nibali, but remains confident that he can challenge for the lead; particularly now that the Italian acid-green team have to defend the jersey. Despite losing a little time himself, he is also pleased to have taken a lot more out of many of the other overall contenders, especially those who excel in the mountains.”

"I think it is important for the Liquigas team to keep the jersey in the mountains,” he said. “The important thing for us is that we have time to get caught Garzelli, Sastre, Evans and Scarponi.”

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