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Kazakh lambasts Ricco for blowing second chance
Alexander Vinokourov says that he is targeting wins in the Classics as a fitting way to end his somewhat controversial career.
In an interview with L'Equipe, the 37-year-old said that last season with victories in the Liège - Bastogne - Liège and in the 13th stage of the Astana team captain said. "I had wanted to quit last year, but as I worked so hard to return, I told myself that I would still do one more year to get the icing on the cake."
Astana announced 10 new signings for the 2011 season, with team leadership to be shared by Vinokourov and new recruit, Czech stage race specialist Roman Kreuziger. Vinokourov will hand over the reins to the former Liquigas rider for the Giro d'Italia to ensure recovery time between the Classics and the Tour de France.
"The Classics, as usual; Amstel, Flèche, and Liège," the Kazakh told L'Equipe of his season goals. "Along with the whole team, we would like to win one of the three. That would be good. Then the Tour. Last year, I felt I still had the legs, not to win, but to race for a stage.
"The ideal would be to wear the yellow jersey at last," Vinokourov admitted of his ultimate goal for the season.
Vinokourov was banned for two years following his positive for blood doping at the 2007 Tour de France and has seemed genuinely thankful for his second chance. When it comes to the recent mis-fortunes of Riccardo Ricco however, the Kazakh is furious in his disbelief.
"There are no words. It's a disaster for cycling. He returned after two years of suspension and began to regain his image in Italy, and still he did such a thing. I do not understand. There is no comment. It's stupid."
"It [the positive test] surprised me," he said. "I was a bit shocked, of course. I spoke with him afterwards and offered my assistance if necessary, in relation to lawyers. I told him that if he needed anything, I was there.
"I spent a lot of time with him since 2006, and although I don't know everything, I didn't think he could do such a thing. We worked hard on the image of the team last year as well as the anti-doping program. The guys did their best for him to win the Tour, and it was unfortunate that they would have had to lose their bonuses."