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Alexander Vinokourov (Astana) will lead the team next season
Kazakh to end career after London 2012 Olympics
Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana) has continued to deny the accusation that he bribed Alexandr Kolobnev in the finale of the 2010 edition of Liège-Bastogne-Liège, claiming that he is the victim of “jealousy.”
In December, Swiss magazine L’Illustre published an email exchange between Vinokourov and Kolobnev, which suggested that the Kazakh had paid out €100,000 to win La Doyenne. It was Vinokourov’s first major win after his return from a two-year suspension for blood doping.
“My lawyers are working,” Vinokourov told rmc.fr. “I know who made this accusation, but I won’t say who. There’s always jealousy in the peloton. With the internet, this kind of thing circulates very quickly. I repeat: I did nothing.”
Vinokourov also insisted that 2012 will be his final season as a professional rider, with the Tour de France and the London Olympics set to bring the curtain down on his controversial career.
“It’s sure, this is my last season, or rather, my last half-season,” he said. “At the most, I will go as far as the Olympic Games.”
Although Vinokourov claimed that his place in the Kazakh delegation for London is not guaranteed, the veteran is looking to perform strongly in the time trial.
“There are only two places for my country, although I’m still in the top 15 of the UCI standings. I think I’m on the list, but we’ll see,” he said. “If I ride the Tour de France, I can follow on a week later with the Olympics if I have the form. It’s the time trial I’m interested in. For the road, it’ll be more difficult.”
Vinokourov had been set to hang up his wheels after the 2011 Tour de France, but a crash on stage 9 – as well as an alleged power struggle behind the scenes at Astana – prompted a swift rethink. After recovering from a fractured femur, he returned to action at the Chrono des Herbiers at the end of the season.
“I didn’t want to stop with a crash,” he said. “I did the Chrono des Herbiers in October, even if it was a bit hard.”
Vinokourov begins his season at the Tour de Langkawi on March 4, and then opens his European campaign at the Volta a Catalunya. Before beginning competitive action on the road, however, he faces the first contest of his nascent political career.
The 38-year-old is among the listed candidates for the ruling Nur Otan party in the Kazakh general elections, which take place on January 15, but suggested that he will not take up a seat in parliament until his racing days are over.
“The elections are on January 15, so it seems difficult for me this time, I have to be with Astana,” he said. “Doing both seems complicated, but after the end of my career, I’ll make my choices.”