Astana team reacts to Vinokourov’s retirement with praise
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Sunday, July 17, 2011

Astana team reacts to Vinokourov’s retirement with praise

by VeloNation Press at 8:40 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France, Injury

Alexandre VinokourovThe Astana team has paid tribute to its leader Alexandre Vinokourov, who confirmed on Sunday that he is retiring from professional cycling, effective immediately. “I think I won’t back on a bike as a professional. I'll stop now,” he told France Television. “We will try to find a new role in the Astana team for me.”

Vinokourov’s decision is an enforced one, caused by the bad fracture he suffered earlier in the Tour when he went off the road and hit a tree. He had been riding aggressively in the race and was determined to take a stage win and, if possible, fight for the podium.

Instead, his career has come to an end.

His eight Tour de France team-mates have commented on the decision, with Roman Kreuziger feeling that he should have had a better farewell to the sport. “He didn’t deserve to finish with a crash like that, because he was really well prepared and could have a great Tour,” the Czech rider said.

It is thought that Vinokourov will go into management; Kreuziger believes this is a good idea. “It seems fair if he finishes in the leadership of the team because it was created around him. And he may provide opportunities to young Kazakhs to evolve in the professional cycling alongside riders from other nationalities…he worked in big teams and he will create the proper mix for the success of a group.”

French climber Remy Di Gregorio underlined his ability when he took an excellent stage win in Paris-Nice in March. He will be chasing more successes this year, and makes it sound like Vinokourov was an influence on him. “He had a great career, and it's a shame it ends up like this. He's a real fighter and we will miss him on this Tour and in general. He has accumulated big victories as the Vuelta Espana and Liege-Bastogne-Liege, his career has been eventful.

“As a leader he has many things to teach. I had a lot of satisfaction to ride with him and he taught me a lot already.”

Their six team-mates echoed these sentiments:

Andrey Zeit (Kazakhstan): “He is a rider who has always trained, very tough and rigorous, always motivated, we can learn a lot from him if he enters the leadership of the team. It is also a good friend to us all, always ready to help if needed. He is a real captain.

Dmitry Fofonov (Kazakhstan): This is not a surprise, he was ready to end his career after the Tour. Of course it's a shame to stop with a nasty crash like that, knowing that he had trained up to this year's Tour de France. I think if Vino became part of the leadership of team, it would be one of the best things that could happen to the team. He was a great leader, he knows cycling very well. He is a champion and he has the soul of a real boss, he has the character to manage a team. I wish him good luck in this way and a speedy recovery!

Tomas Vaitkus (Lithuania): At least he finished as a fighter! We will miss him as a rider. I think if he goes into management, everyone will be satisfied, he knows races from the inside as a cyclist, so he knows what we need. And he will push his riders to good results.

Paolo Tiralongo (Italy) : He is the symbol of Kazakhstan. It’s him who carries the banner of the team and of the nation. From my point of view, bringing him into the management is the minimum that the team could do for him. He grew up in cycling, he knows everyone in this community and knows how to create an atmosphere in a group. Tactically, he has a very good eye.

“Also the fact of having been his team mate in the past, it establishes a relationship of trust and esteem for him and you know you can talk to him freely. I think he deserves to have a job in management after so many years.”

Andriy Grivko (Ukraine): “It is his decision to stop cycling as a rider and I think he made the right choice. If he can get into coaching the team, it would be great way to end his career, I think it will bring good things to the team.”

Maxim Iglinskiy (Kazakhstan): “I think it's a shame that his career is over this way, but when I look at the future I see only positives if it means he will take part in the management direction of the team. He is a real friend and a great champion and when he wins a race, it inspires me. I think he can be a model for all of us.”


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