By Kurt Hoy
Team Astana’s Alexander Vinokourov said that winning the Tour de France was a dream for him, but it’s not any longer.
The Kazakh cyclist and 2000 Olympic silver medalist will return to racing (after a two-year suspension that ended on July 24, 2009) at the Tour del Mediterráneo, in February.
“It’s like having a second youth,” said the soft-spoken “Vino,” speaking in French in an interview Friday.
Motivated and healthy, Vinokourov will go from Tour Med to Tirreno–Adriatico and the Giro de Italia. He’ll then recover for the Tour de France.
“I will be at 100 percent, riding for Alberto at the Tour de France. As for me, I will do the best I can at the Giro de Italia.”
When pressed about his Tour ambitions, Vino made it clear that an overall Tour bid is not a part of the plan. “I’d like to win a stage this year or maybe next year,” he added.
Vino was realistic when asked if he thinks that the Tour’s owner, ASO, will try to stop him from racing in the 2010 Tour de France.
“Of course there’s a chance, and they are the ones who will decide, but I think that I demonstrated last year that people were happy with my comeback.”
“I’ll do everything I can to be at the start.”
Vinokourov joined the Astana team in Calpe, Spain, on Thursday, and rode with teammates including Alberto Contador on Friday. Vino and Contador spent much of the ride together, protected in the middle of the pack.
“The weather is nice in Spain. I know the region because I have been here for races like the Tour of Valencia. There’s not a lot of traffic, and the food is good,” said Vinokourov of his first camp in Calpe.
For more from the interview, tune in to VeloCenter on Tuesday, January 19.