By Gregor Brown
The Tour de France starts tomorrow in London and Alexander Vinokourov is considered the number one favourite but yesterday the Kazakh was drilled for his involvement with Doctor Michele Ferrari.
"I search for the best," he said of his relationship with the Italian preparatore. "A lot have talked well of him. Look at the facts. The seven victories of Lance Armstrong at the Tour are a result of his collaboration. Armstrong was super, also Ferrari."
Vino continued in an interview with La Gazzetta dello Sport, explaining that he has always found Ferrari's methods acceptable. "I have not found anything illegal. Ferrari was never condemned in Italy. Ferrari does not mean doping. I chose him as a physical trainer, not chemical. With him I do hard work, specific, personal."
The 33 year-old was forced to distance himself from Ferrari due to his Astana team. "We have a code of ethics and I respect it. ... However, Ferrari is not my doctor but my trainer. Doctors and trainers are complementary jobs but diverse.
"He gave me a good strength base test. ... At times, with Ferrari, it is like the Soviet Union times with how we do training; three times a day, the first in the morning without breakfast."
Vino commented on his former teammate Jörg Jaksche's recent confessions. "Who is he, in exchange for 100 thousand euro, you would not only make confessions but inventions."
Racing starts tomorrow and Vinokourov is ready to put the past year behind him and vie for the Maillot Jaune. "Last year I was stopped from racing because the Tour took out five riders from my team for Operación Puerto and then there was no longer the allowed limit of riders remaining with the four of us. Then I won the Vuelta. This season I lived for the Tour de France. And I am ready."