As he gets ready for the start of his first full racing season since serving a two-year ban for blood doping, Alexander Vinokourov admits he has given up on ever winning the Tour de France.
"It was a dream for me before," the 36-year-old from Kazakhstan said at the Astana camp in Calpe, Spain, last week. "But now it's over."
Alberto Contador will lead the Astana team at the 2010 Tour de France but Vinokourov thinks he can at least be a factor in the race despite being 36 and after two years out of the sport.
"Of course I will ride 100 percent for Alberto in the Tour de France to help him win," Vinokourov explained. "He said part of the reason he stayed with this team is that I can help him."
Vinokourov will start his season at the Tour Méditerranéan and then ride Tirreno-Adriatico before targeting the Giro d'Italia in May.
Vino admits that the decision on if he will be allowed to ride this year’s Tour is out of his hands because race organisers ASO have the final word. However if he is allowed back, he promises to ride aggressively and target stage wins.
"I would like to win a stage, if not this year then next year," he says. "I'm very healthy and mentally more motivated than I was before. This is like having a second youth. I will do everything I can to be at the start of the Tour de France."