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Vino to take over Astana

Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana-Wurth)

Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana-Wurth) (Image credit: AFP)

Alexandre Vinokourov, who some describe as 'collateral damage' of the Operación Puerto affair at the Tour de France, is not giving up. Speaking to L'Equipe, the 32 year-old said that he had plans to "take over the team [of Manolo Saiz] completely on the long run. This is going to be our team," Vinokourov said, meaning that he wanted to make it a Kazakh outfit altogether.

The sponsors of his home country want to buy the team of its current Spanish managers. "Two years from now, I will probably be directeur sportif of the team," said 'Vino'. "We made a mistake in the beginning of June, when Astana became the new sponsor for Liberty Seguros. We should have bought the company shares from Saiz then - that would have been the only thing to save the team at the start in Strasbourg. But I couldn't think straight at the time; I had to prepare myself for the Tour!"

On Saiz, Vinokourov said, "I don't want to judge before having all the information, but I understand better now that there was a kind of war between him and the Tour organisers. He has to retire from the sport now; he has to disappear, we shouldn't see him anymore altogether. Maybe he can find happiness working in a small cycling shop."

The Kazakhstani hasn't given up in his own future though - he wants to have another go at the Tour de France next year. "It was perhaps my last chance to win the Tour, and they stole it from me," added Vinokourov. "It was hard; we hoped for a salvation gesture from the Tour until the very last minute. Now I'm very tired." He will take a two-weeks break, before preparing to for the World Championships in Salzburg. "But I still think that I might have a chance on a Tour win next year. I'll be back, that's for sure."

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