Fatigue ends Vinokourov's Vuelta

Astana rider expected to return in Kazakh colours at Worlds

Alexander Vinokourov (Astana) called short his return to Grand Tour competition after he abandoned the Vuelta a España on Friday. Astana said his decision to withdraw, due to fatigue, was not entirely unexpected after two years out of the sport. Vinokourov is expected to return to competition at the World Championships, later this month.

"Vinokourov was the right man to go in the break today as Dani [Navarro] and Haimar [Zubeldia] are racing for the general classification,” said Astana's Sports Director Sean Yates on Astana's website.

"Vinokourov was doing well in the break but was dropped on the second climb and this is logical for his first race back. The next few days are hard. [He's] is disappointed but he realizes this is all normal after two years away from competition," he added.

Vinokourov had been active throughout the Vuelta's second week. His abandon came on the lower slopes of the Alto del Velefique, after spending most of Friday's 12th stage in the main breakaway of the day.

The stage 12 breakaway was his second major move after he finished fourth behind Simon Gerrans (Cervélo TestTeam) on stage 10. He started stage 12 in 36th position overall, 15:27 behind race leader Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne)

Astana's Press Officer Philippe Maertens echoed Yates' comments about Vinokourov's withdrawal from the race and told Cyclingnews on Saturday that he is still expected to represent Kazakhstan at the World Championships in Mendrisio, Switzerland.

"As I understand it, he is doing the road race and the time trial," said Maertens. "That was his main objective for this year. Perhaps after the Vuelta he may see it as more difficult, but [the Worlds] was his plan."

The Vuelta a España was Vinokourov's first race for Astana since returning to competition with the Kazakhstan national team last month. He had served a two-year ban for blood doping during the 2006 Tour de France.

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