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Vinokourov bids farewell in San Sebastian

By:
Cycling News
Published:
August 15, 2012, 03:51,
Updated:
August 15, 2012, 04:52
Edition:
Second Edition Cycling News, Wednesday, August 15, 2012
Race:
Clasica Ciclista San Sebastian
Recently crowned Olympic road champion Alexandr Vinokourov (Astana) has a special jersey to commemorate his win.

Recently crowned Olympic road champion Alexandr Vinokourov (Astana) has a special jersey to commemorate his win.

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Olympic champion says it's time for Bazayev to step up for Kazakhstan

The professional cycling career of Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana) came to a close with a 35th placing at the Clasica San Sebastian on Tuesday. The Olympic Champion finished over three minutes down on race winner, Luis León Sánchez (Rabobank).

The Kazakh is unsure of his next move but now the racing is over, he will head home to meet with long-time President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev along with the nation's six other Olympic gold medallists.

"I was psyched that this year was over and my goal was to win a stage in the Tour," said Vinokourov. "I wanted to leave through the front door. It was not possible to win in France, but it has been even better winning at the Olympics.

"I did not expect to take the Olympic gold," he continued, sporting the Olympic rings on his jersey. "It was a dream, the best finish, the most you could expect. My family, my friends and Kazakhstan are very happy and for my country has been very important to get an Olympic victory. "

There had been a possibility that the 38-year-old would contest the world championships in Valkenberg however he decided that the path back from broken right femur at the 2011 Tour de France had proved too difficult.

"The decision was made," admitted Vinokourov. "With my accident last year it has cost me a lot to get back into shape, it has been hard, but could not leave cycling in that way, it was clear. In my country and my team there are good riders like [Assan] Bazayev that have to step forward and take more responsibility."

Over his 14-year career, Vinokourov had won grand tour stages, Liege-Bastogne-Liege twice, Amstel Gold Race, Paris-Nice and the Tour de Suisse to name a few highlights on his palmares but his is a career that also polarizes after his ban for blood doping at the 2007 Tour de France.

Astana was certainly racing for his benefit at Clasica San Sebastian, but the perfect end to his career could not be achieved.

"I am very grateful and happy that my last race as a professional is in San Sebastian," he said. "It was my last race and I have come to enjoy. I tried to be fighting to win, I really wanted it and for my team, but my best legs were in London. Nevertheless I enjoyed my final kilometres. "