Alexandre Vinokourov and Astana make it official that he’ll keep riding through 2012
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Thursday, September 22, 2011

Alexandre Vinokourov and Astana make it official that he’ll keep riding through 2012

by Xylon van Eyck at 6:31 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Injury
Says his results are important for the Astana team

Alexandre VinokourovHaving recently discussed his intention to continue racing, Alexandre Vinokourov has officially confirmed that he will postpone retirement and keep competing as part of the Astana team next year. The squad today communicated that he will remain part of the squad, removing any doubt caused by recent talk by Vinokourov of tension with management.

The Kazakhstani crashed out of this year’s Tour de France, breaking the head of his right femur. At the time it was understood to be his last race as a professional cyclist, with Vinokourov expressing disappointment at ending his career that way but ruling out a return.

As had been suspected in recent weeks, he has gone back on his decision.Vinokourov resumed training on the road on September 13th and will return to racing next month at the Tour of Lombardy. He’ll then continue to build over the winter and aim for big results in 2012.

“If I want to continue it's also for the Astana Team. The last two years I have achieved good results and I want my team to get the benefits of this, I can’t leave it like that, and I have to stay also for my country," said the 38 year old.

“I started training and as announced I will be at the start of the next Tour of Lombardy, and ready to go for another season on the road.”

He recently pointed out that if he didn’t return to the team and if it didn’t make another high-profile signing, that the loss of world ranking points would likely force it to race as a Pro Continental team next year.

Vinokourov returned to cycling in 2009 after being banned for blood doping during the Tour de France. Since his comeback he has won Liège-Bastogne-Liège, a stage in the Tour de France and the overall classification in the Giro del Trentino.

This year he won a stage of the tough Vuelta al Pais Vasco plus the Tour de Romandie.

It was previously expected that once Vinokourov decided to stop riding, he’d take on a management role within the Astana team. He will now play somewhat of a mentoring role from inside the peloton for the younger riders in the team, and presumably move to a full management role when he does hang up his wheels.

“I will continue to be in contact with the team manager Giuseppe Martinelli to guide new generations of riders for the coming Olympic Games,” he said, “and where Kazakhstan will be well represented and to build a great future Astana team in preparation for 2013."

Besides Alberto Contador, who has since joined Team SaxoBank-Sungard, Vinokourov has taken the most victories for Astana the past two seasons. He has intimated that this is one of the main reasons he has decided to carry on as a professional cyclist.

He is part of a group of cyclists who are proving that it is still possible to compete successfully despite being older than 35 years old. Jens Voigt (40), Chris Horner (39), Levi Leipheimer (37) and Andreas Kloden (36) are amongst those. They have all won races this season and have signed contracts to continue next year.


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