Kazakh national team assembled for French Tour
Alexander Vinokourov is scheduled to make his return to stage-race competition at the Tour de l'Ain in France after the last minute addition of a Kazakh national team to the race's startlist on Friday. However, the International Cycling Union (UCI) has told Cyclingnews that Vinokourov will need to have secured a licence with the Monegasque cycling federation before he will be allowed to start.
Team Kazakhstan was added by race organisers to the startlist with Vinokourov named as team leader of the six-man squad. The entry of the national team into the four-day Tour came as the stalemate continues between Astana and the 35-year-old rider.
Astana's Press Officer Phillipe Maertens confirmed on Friday that Vinokourov had hoped to compete with Astana at the race. "It is true that Vinokourov wanted to race with us [at the Tour de l'Ain], but no agreement has been reached," he said.
The eleventh-hour tactic by Vinokourov to start the race could come unstuck if he is unable to gain a race licence prior to the race's start of Sunday. The International Cycling Union (UCI) told Cyclingnews on Friday that because he is a resident of Monaco it is the responsibility of the Fédération Monégasque de Cyclisme (FMC), rather than the Kazakh cycling federation, to issue a licence.
"Vinokourov needs to be in possession of a licence delivered by the FMC," said UCI Press Officer Enrico Carpani. "He has two options. First as a rider with a contract where the team would request the licence or he can compete as a non-contracted rider with the national team of Kazakhstan, which he is doing at this stage. Both options will satisfy the UCI, but he must have a licence issued by the FMC."
The FMC was unavailable for comment on Friday.
The Tour de l'Ain is scheduled to start the race in Bourg-en-Bresse on Sunday. If Vinokourov is able to secure a licence in time to start the race he will be joined by compatriots Valentin Iglinskiy, Dimitry Gruzdev, Dimitry Fofonov, Alexandr Shushemoin and Yevgeniv Sladkov.
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