Who are Nicolas and Alexandre Vinokourov? Twins with a famous father
Teenage twins follow Astana boss dad into the pro peloton at the Tour of Oman
It was over a decade ago when a Vinokourov last raced in Oman, the Kazakhstani rider starting his 13th and penultimate professional season in the Gulf state, an affinity between the two oil-based Asian states, however slight and forgettable.
This year sees the return of the famous Kazkhstani surname to the early season race, though the 2022 meeting comes via teenagers with French accents rather than the national hero and now-boss of the Astana Qazaqstan team.
The squad's continental feeder squad have taken to the roads of Oman this week. Alexandre is there – the 19-year-old son, not the father – along with his identical twin brother Nicolas, who made the breakaway on stage 5.
Cyclingnews spoke to the two teenagers, both making their debuts with the team and among top-level WorldTour pros, at the race, where they talked about their pro debut, life in Monaco, their cycling idols, and more.
Cyclingnews: How has your first race with the team and at this level been for the two of you?
Alexandre: A little more pressure with high-level teams. We're here with nice and strong guys in the team. The Tour of Oman is not the biggest race in the pro tour but still, when you arrive for a climb or the flat stages you see the speed is higher and the tension is also high. It changes a bit here.
Nicolas: It could have been better, but the level is very high here. Not so high, but it's my first time in a pro stage race. So, no pressure but just take some experience from it.
QuickStep, UAE, DSM are here and it's kind of strange but it's a good feeling. It's like we have passed a step up in the pro level. I'm feeling good inside the peloton and I'm enjoying it.
CN: You're Kazakhstani but you were born in France and now live with your family in Monaco?
Nicolas: We were born in Nice and then since we were four years old we have lived in Monaco so we speak French.
Alexandre: We live there and we study in the International University of Monaco. We both study business management; we're one and a half years in so we are halfway through that.
CN: What kind of riders are you?
Alexandre: We're more like climbers. It's a bit complicated so just say that we're climbers [laughs]. No, we do our best in the climbs, but we're not going to win any stages in the Tour of Oman this year. Let's just hope our shape goes up and up this year and we'll see what we can get after.
Nicolas: I'm still trying to know what I'm good at like time trials, climbing, sprinting. I don't know. But the main goal in my career would be to win some stages at the Tour de France. I think it's the goal of most of the peloton. And maybe once to become world champion.
CN: You've already taken part in major under-23 races despite only being 18 and 19 at the time. How was that experience?
Nicholas: We have raced the Tour de l'Avenir and U23 Giro already. The plan is to race them both again this year. We're going to see how the shape is going and try to go well in both races.
Last year the World Championships was a good experience in Belgium. It was my first time riding the Flandrian pavè. There was not a lot of it but still it was very tough and with the wind and climbs as well.
CN: Obviously you have a famous father. What can you say about his influence on your careers?
Alexandre: You have to be at the certain level to get here. It's not just because your name is this name so you'll follow. For sure, if we're good then yeah but if we're not then… you don't.
CN: Is there a sibling rivalry between you?
Nicolas: Maybe for fun. For brothers it's always like this. We try to beat each other but now it's not our main goal. Like maybe I'll be better in the beginning of the season and he'll pass me and then again. Every moment of the season we can be in a different shape.
CN: Apart from the obvious name, which riders have you looked up to as you were growing up?
Alexandre: A lot of cyclists, like Cavendish for example. I saw him on TV every time and now I ride with him. That kind of rider but not one idol in particular.
Roglič is an incredible guy. Because he also lives in Monaco we met a few times. Then at a training camp in Sierra Nevada in May we saw him also training there and we spent part of the time with him. Super guy.
In Monaco we don't ride with the pros too much but when we see them we ride with them a bit and say hi. All the guys are cool.
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Daniel Ostanek is production editor at Cyclingnews, having joined in 2017 as a freelance contributor and later being hired as staff writer. Prior to joining the team, he had written for most major publications in the cycling world, including CyclingWeekly, Rouleur, and CyclingTips.
Daniel has reported from the world's top races, including the Tour de France and the spring Classics, and has interviewed many of the sport's biggest stars, including Wout van Aert, Remco Evenepoel, Demi Vollering, and Anna van der Breggen.
As well as original reporting, news and feature writing, and production work, Daniel also runs The Leadout newsletter and oversees How to Watch guides throughout the season. His favourite races are Strade Bianche and the Volta a Portugal, and he rides a Colnago C40.
By Josh Ross