If anyone had doubted whether Astana's Alexandre Vinokourov would be a faithful domestique for Alberto Contador, the first mountain stage has proven Vino to be a man of his word. The Kazakhstani struggled in the final climb to Avoriaz on stage 8 of the Tour de France, but after being dropped, he regained contact with the favorites and brought waterbottles from the team car to his teammates, who were setting a hard pace at the head of the front group.
"We've played it well," said Vino in first words at the finish. "On the second last climb, when Lance Armstrong got dropped, we gave the maximum energy we had to create a difference. We have put a lot of time onto him. The team has worked well. [Daniel] Navarro has done an exceptional job."
Vinokourov didn't expect Armstrong to disappear so quickly from the top positions of the classification. "I think he suffered in the heat," said the Astana star. "He also crashed quite a bit as well. Now he's out of contention for sure. We'll see - day after day - how we can get rid of our other adversaries."
Saxo Bank's Andy Schleck, who won the day's stage, isn't a major concern for Vinokourov. "He hasn't taken much time on Alberto, I'm not worried," he said.
VIno lost contact on the final climb after doing his job as a domestique. He finished the day 2:23 down on Schleck.
"The heat is also not very good for me," said Vino, "and I've spent a lot of energy already at the Giro, but it's okay, I'm satisfied with what I can do for the team and I'm happy with the outcome of this stage."