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Vinokourov to ride on in 2012

COPENHAGEN (AFP) – Kazakh rider Alexander Vinokourov, victim of a fall during the Tour de France, confirmed on Thursday that he will continue to compete in 2012 with the Astana team.

“If I want to continue on it’s also for the Astana Team. These past two years I’ve achieved good results and I want my team to benefit,” said the 38-year-old who had previously said he intended to retire at the end of this season.

“I can’t quit the team just like that and I have to stay as well for my country,” he said. “I’ve returned to training and will be at the starting line for the upcoming Tour of Lombardy (October 15) and then will be ready to start for a new season on the roads.”

Vinokourov underwent surgery after a thigh fracture during the Tour de France and had announced that he intended to retire at the end of this season.

Vinokourov, who began his professional career with the Casino team in 1998, twice won Liège–Bastogne–Liège, and finished third at the Tour de France in 2003.

As well as his exploits, Vinokourov — who also won a silver medal in the Olympic road race at Athens in 2000 — has also courted controversy in a 13-year career. He was thrown out of the Tour de France, after the 15th stage and during the second rest day, in 2007 when it was announced he had tested positive for blood doping. Vinokourov was sacked by Astana and served a two-year ban.

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