Alexandre Vinokourov, the captain of the embattled Astana team, trained for three hours on Thursday in the surrounds of Malaga, then spoke about his ambitions for the Vuelta and World Championships. Vinokourov downplayed his status as one of the favourites for the Vuelta, preferring to wait and see how everything pans out.
"I am in good shape and also I want to be good in the race. My first intention is to reach the ideal condition for the World's and, if I get over the mountains, I will go for the general classification...In the Vuelta what I want is to demonstrate to myself that I'm motivated and that I can do a good three week race."
Vino's compatriot Andrey Kashechkin showed better form in the recent Tour of Germany, which puts him in a position of alternative captain for the Vuelta. "Kashechkin has already ridden hard in the Tour of Germany and is maybe thinking more about a stage victory here, but it will depend on the race as to what strategy we adopt."
As for the race's favourites, "Valverde is the most dangerous if he comes in good condition. After him, nobody knows, there can also be a break like in the Tour."
Astana's problems this season, stemming from its involvement in Operacion Puerto will serve as a "double motivation for us" according to Vinokourov. "We want to demonstrate to our sponsor that we are here and that we are going to fight."