Alexandre Vinokourov showed up at the start of stage 2 in the Presidential Tour of Turkey in Alanya with a large smile, as did Valentin Iglinskiy because of the win of his elder brother Maxim at Liège-Bastogne-Liège. Both Astana riders watched the last fifty kilometres of "La Doyenne" from their hotel room near the Mediterranean coast.
"We have awaited our first victory for a while but this is a wonderful time for our team," Vinokourov told Cyclingnews.
Janez Brajkovic opened the team's account at stage 3 of the Volta a Catalunya and now Astana has three wins including two major Classics back-to-back with Amstel Gold Race (by Enrico Gasparotto) and Liège-Bastogne-Liège.
"Our start of the season was far from our expectations but these two Classics have put an end to our hard time," Vino continued. "It proves that Kazakh cycling is not only about myself. I've told Iglinskiy that after what he did yesterday, I can retire quietly."
The soon-to-be Astana team manager played his part in Iglinskiy's victory in Belgium. "I called Maxim yesterday morning before the start," Vino added. "I had noticed that he had good legs at Amstel Gold Race and Fleche Wallonne. ... He rode to perfection. He did it the Vino way! I told him to wait for the Roche-aux-Faucons and go with [Joaquim] Rodriguez. When he did it, I was confident that he'd finish on the podium. He dropped Rodriguez on St-Nicolas and turned the turbo on to catch [Vincenzo] Nibali."
Vinokourov revealed why Iglinskiy didn't win a big Classic until the age of 31. "He lacked motivation," the (substitute) member of the Kazakh Parliament said. "When he won the Strade Bianche and a stage of Tirreno-Adriatico in 2010, I told Maxim: ‘you can ride like Valverde' but he said: ‘no!!! I'm not at this level'. This year he's gone to altitude training camps here and there and he's motivated again. After this victory, he can step up to another level. He'll go back to Kazakhstan tomorrow and take some rest prior to training for the Tour de France and why not the Olympic Games."
On the eve of the Amstel Gold Race, Vinokourov reassured the president of the Kazakh cycling federation Kairat Kelimbetov that a great win was around the corner. "I'm even happier that a Kazakh rider is the winner. It shuts the mouth of the people who haven't believed in Kazakh riders. I reminded Maxim last night when we spoke again at 11pm: ‘I've always believed in you.'"
As a result of the revival of the motivation at Astana, Vino himself went on the attack at the Tour of Turkey after 48km and won the intermediate sprint at Manavgat.
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