Alexander Vinokourov: "Impossible to win" against Gilbert in Flèche Wallonne
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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Alexander Vinokourov: "Impossible to win" against Gilbert in Flèche Wallonne

by Bjorn Haake at 4:47 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Spring Classics, Flèche Wallonne
 
Kazakh rider still hopes to repeat Liège-Bastogne-Liège win on Sunday

alexander vinokourovAlexander Vinokourov finished fourth today in Flèche Wallonne and said that he could do no better. Vinokourov was placed well at the bottom of the climb but had no answer to Gilbert's furious acceleration. He finished behind Joaquin Rodriguez and Samuel Sanchez, just outside the podium spot. The Kazakh rider hopes for revenge on Sunday in Liège-Bastogne-Liège.

The 2005 and 2010 Liège winner made no excuses. "It was impossible to win against Philippe Gilbert in this Flèche Wallonne," he told Sportwereld after the race. "My team tried to attack," he explained the Astana tactic. The team's leader had only one goal in mind. "I wanted to win here, and I really felt I had the legs for it. I thought a strong acceleration on the final climb would be possible. But it is obvious that Gilbert's legs were even better," Vinokourov said.

Now his focus turns towards the final Spring Classic of the season. "Sunday in Liège-Bastogne-Liège we are both back, maybe for a revenge. At any rate, it will be a different course."

There will be a lot more hills in Sunday's race, with the parcours more than 50 kilometers longer than today's affair. Vinokourov won last year's Liège-Bastogne-Liège six seconds ahead of Alexandr Kolobnev. The third-place finisher was already 1'04 back - his name? Philippe Gilbert. It seems that this year, the result may be bit different, as Gilbert is clearly showing that he has the legs to win the Ardennes triple.

Vinokourov is also enjoying a good season, slowly building up his form to obtain his first season victory at the Vuelta al País Vasco. He took stage three from Villatuerta to Zuia-Murgia, over 177 kilometers. With his trademark late attack, he held off a fast-sprinting peloton that was led home by Oscar Freire.

Vinokourov's 2005 Liège–Bastogne–Liège win came in a two-up sprint against Jens Voigt. The duo was ahead of Michael Boogerd by 14 seconds in the end.

Vinokourov returned late in 2009 after a doping suspension and started winning again immediately. His first race back was the Tour de l'Ain, where he won stage 3b, an individual time trial over 8.6 kilometers. He continued a good run of races that year, capping it with another time trial victory, this time in the Chrono des Nations - Les Herbiers.

In 2010, he won the Giro del Trentino, Liège–Bastogne–Liège and Stage 13 of the Tour de France. He was also sixth overall in the Giro d'Italia and second in the Giro's points classification. His season ended with a good second place in the Clasica San Sebastian. In the three-man sprint he lost out to Luis Leon Sanchez Gil, but was ahead of Carlos Sastre.

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