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Vino’ signs with Liberty-Seguros

In setting up what is sure to be one of the big battles of the 2006 Tour de France, Alexandre Vinokourov has inked a deal with the Spanish Liberty-Seguros team. In leaving Jan Ullrich's T-Mobile squad, Vinokourov said he joined Liberty with the expressed goal of winning the Tour within the next two years. The Kazakh-born Russian, fifth in last week's Tour after winning two stages, said he had realized in the third week of this year's Tour his career was going nowhere as long as he remained a part of Ullrich's support network. "I've given myself two years to win the

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By Staff and wire reports

Vinokourov capped his '05 Tour with two stage wins. He wants more than that.

Vinokourov capped his ’05 Tour with two stage wins. He wants more than that.

Photo: Graham Watson

In setting up what is sure to be one of the big battles of the 2006 Tour de France, Alexandre Vinokourov has inked a deal with the Spanish Liberty-Seguros team.

In leaving Jan Ullrich’s T-Mobile squad, Vinokourov said he joined Liberty with the expressed goal of winning the Tour within the next two years.

The Kazakh-born Russian, fifth in last week’s Tour after winning two stages, said he had realized in the third week of this year’s Tour his career was going nowhere as long as he remained a part of Ullrich’s support network.

“I’ve given myself two years to win the Tour,” he told sports daily l’Equipe. “I couldn’t wait any longer with them.”

“I’m still friends with Jan,” the 31-year-old Vinokourov said, “but it was obvious you can’t have two Tour contenders in the same team.”

Vinokourov, who finished third overall in 2003, had been expecting more from this year’s Tour but he complained that neither Ullrich nor top-ranked Andréas Klöden gave him any backing when he attacked Lance Armstrong as the American went on to win a record seventh time. It was that frustration, he said, that led him to sign with the Spanish team, run by the venerable Manolo Sáiz.

Ullrich, the 1997 Tour winner, has finished runner-up five times, and finished third this year but next year’s Tour is up for grabs now that Armstrong’s seven-year win streak has come to an end.