'Vino' not a Tour contender

According to the team directors Johan Bruyneel and Walter Godefroot of the rivaling squads Discovery...

According to the team directors Johan Bruyneel and Walter Godefroot of the rivaling squads Discovery Channel and T-Mobile, Liège-Bastogne-Liège winner Alexandre Vinokourov is not to be counted amongst the riders that could possibly win the Tour de France. Although Bruyneel admitted to Sportwereld.be that Vinokourov was a man to be watched, he also believed that the Kazakh lacked the necessary climbing skills for a Tour de France overall victory.

"I haven't forgotten his third placing in the Tour 2003", Bruyneel said. "You can't allow Vino any freedom. He never gives up and will use every opportunity to attack. But I can't see him win the Tour, as his climbing capabilities are limited. Lance and Ullrich are superior anyway." The directeur sportif of Discovery Channel also thought that T-Mobile's tactics of spearheading the squad with two or more overall leaders (Ullrich, Klöden, Vinokourov) still wouldn't make any difference to the outcome of the race. "All I know is that none of them has been able to beat Lance in the past," he said.

That point of view is surprisingly shared by T-Mobile's team manager Walter Godefroot. "In theory, Vinokourov can't win the Tour," Godefroot said. Fortunately, he did not fail to amend that harsh statement about the rider that has just scored the first victory for T-Mobile this season last Sunday, thereby lifting the burden of defeat off the whole team. "I said: in theory. What I wanted to say is that Vinokourov does not possess that intrinsic class in time trials or mountains like Armstrong and Ullrich. Fortunately, the Tour lasts for 21 days, which means that 'Vino' will surely get his chances."

Godefroot continued by giving kudos to the 31 year-old Kazakh. "Vinokourov is robust - he bends but will not break. He's one of the best riders we ever contracted. Give me a squad full of 'Vinos' and I would have an easy job! He can do well at the Tour", Godefroot then concluded. "They never believed that Lucien Aimar could win the Tour de France in 1966, and then he did. Vinokourov is a more complete and better rider than the Frenchman. So..."

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