Vino’ confirms plans to ride again
By Agence France Presse
Alexander Vinokourov, banned for a year after doping at the 2007 Tour de France, confirmed on Sunday that he wants to return to the sport.
The 35-year-old told Belgian TV station Sporza that he wants to race again in 2009.
“I love cycling. I want to come back because I didn’t want to end my career in this way. I feel as if I can win once again the big races.”
Before returning to the saddle, however, the controversial Vinokourov faces the angry opposition of world governing body, the UCI, which has reserved the right to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) to increase the ban which was imposed by his national federation.
Various media reports claimed on Sunday that UCI president Pat McQuaid wants the Kazakh to serve a two-year ban, in line with the organization’s guidelines.
In Sunday’s TV interview, the cyclist remained vague on the circumstances of the doping row which rocked the 2007 Tour de France and also led to his Astana team being kicked out of the event.
“It’s a bizarre story,” was all he would say, before adding that among his ambitions were to win the world title as well as the Giro d’Italia.
“I dreamt of one day winning the Tour de France. It didn’t happen, but the Giro is also a big race.”
The interview did not touch on Vinokourov’s reported ambition to ride alongside lance Armstrong in a reconstituted Astana team.
On Saturday, the Sporza website claimed that Vinokourov believed he would manage to rejoin Astana, which since his ban has undergone a management overhaul with the arrival of Johan Bruyneel, the man who helped steer Armstrong to seven straight yellow Tour de France jerseys.
Vinokourov, however, may not have to depend on Bruyneel’s approval. He is well-connected with the title sponsors of the team, a consortium of Kazakh businesses and government agencies. Vinokourov was instrumental in securing the sponsorship when his old team, Liberty Seguros, collapsed after its manager was named in the Opera?ion Puerto scandal.
Vinokourov claimed his first three-week stage race victory when he won the Vuelta a España in 2006, adding to successes in the Liege-Bastogne-Liege (2005), the Amstel Gold Race (2003), Paris-Nice (2002, 2003) and three stages on the Tour de France.