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Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana) has been training in Italy for his return to cycling. The Astana leader poses for a photo with Eddy Merckx, left, and Belgian champion Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto).
Astana leader opts for time trial instead of Tour of Lombardy
Alexandre Vinokourov will make his long awaited return to competition at the Chrono des Nations on October 16. The Astana team leader has not raced since crashing out of this year’s Tour de France with a broken femur, an injury suffered during stage 9. He briefly announced his retirement from the sport but made a backtrack and will race again this season after what has been a quick recovery.
Now back on the bike and training in Italy, Vinokourov has built up his form and fitness ahead of the French time trial, which will also be a major test for Thomas Dekker. Vinokourov had made no secret of his plans to return to racing at the Tour of Lombardy but it soon became apparent that his time off the bike and the injury itself would have been too much for the aging rider.
"During my last training I thought a lot about my return to competition. I feel good on the road, but I do not want to take risks with my health. I prefer to start with an individual time trial; it is a discipline in which the risk of crash is lower than in a Classic race, among a bunch. So I decided to take part in Chrono des Nations instead of the Tour of Lombardy."
Vinokourov won the Chrono des Nations in 2009 but heading into this year’s race he is not putting himself down as one of the favourites.
"It's a race I won in 2009, but this year I don’t presume to place myself as a favorite, I come back first to get the race pace back and above all to greet my supporters who have brought so much support in recent months, I am truly grateful of them!"