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By Andrew Hood
Astana is Vuelta-bound and Alexandre Vinokourov will be team captain.
The troubled team filed the necessary paperwork Friday with Vuelta a España organizers to get the green light to start the season’s third grand tour, set to start Aug. 26 in Málaga.
While the issue of the team’s ProTour license has yet to be settled, Vuelta organizers will allow the team to race if none of the riders are implicated in the ongoing “Operación Puerto” doping investigation in Spain.
Vinokourov, currently racing in the Tour of Germany, said he’s unsure what to expect in the mountainous Vuelta. The Kazakh was forced out of the 2006 Tour de France after five of the starting Astana nine were implicated in the Puerto case, leaving the remaining four riders short of the minimum of six required to start.
“I am feeling okay, but after a long period without competition, it’s normal that it will take a while to get back up to speed, but I do feel better than I expected,” Vinokourov said. “I see that things are going okay, I will fight for the overall. If I cannot, I will prepare for the world’s.”Astana for Vuelta a España
Aug. 26-Sept. 17Alexandre VinokourovCarlos BarredoAssan BazayevAlberto ContadorAndrey KashechkinAaron KempsSergio PaulinhoLuis León SánchezSergey Yakovlev