Alexander Vinokourov has opened his final season as a pro at the Tour of Langkawi, but not as captain. Still recovering his form after his horrifying accident in last summer's Tour de France, the Astana rider is now ready “to pass the baton to a new generation.”
Vinokourov broke his femur on the ninth stage of the Tour, when he crashed into a ravine and was stopped by tree. He considered retiring at the time, but then decided to come back, but not for himself. Had he retired in July, "the team would not have had enough points for the WorldTour" status in 2012, he told the Astana fans website, according to biciciclismo.com.
While he is listed as the Astana team captain in Langkawi, he is playing a support role. “Even though I'm training well, I'm not competitive after the injury,” he said. He will thus “support runners such as Alexander Dyachenko, Dimitriy Gruzdev or whoever is doing well in the mountains.”
His main priority in 2012 is to "support young cyclists." The 38-year-old said that he felt that he “could carry on working until forty-five, like Jan Kirsipuu, but I want to pass the baton to a new generation."
For this, his final season, the Kazakh said that "if all goes well, I'll go to the Giro and the Tour de France after that. It is the ideal race to finish my career." The London 2012 Olympics are questionable, though. He might be there, “but Kazakhstan has only two spots. I don't want to take the place of another rider who can do better, because there will be eight or ten athletes aspiring to compete in the Olympics. We have to look at our possibilities and it seems the path is not the right one for me.”