Vinokourov rules out Vuelta overall, aims for stage win

Kazakh Alexandre Vinokourov says will fight for a stage win in the Vuelta a España, August 29 to September 20. He has ruled out victory in the overall classification, citing a lack of fitness after a return from his two-year doping suspension.

"I have to be realistic, I think that aiming for the overall victory is impossible," he told De Telegraaf.

Vinokourov completed last month a suspension for blood doping at the 2007 Tour de France. He won the time trial of the Tour de l'Ain and the Asian Championships this month.

"I did not expect those wins, but the Vuelta's level will a lot higher," he said. "I don't know if I can hold that same level for three weeks. For that reason I am pointing towards a stage win in a time trial or in the mountains."

Vinokourov won three stages and the overall classification of the Vuelta a España in 2006. He won one other stage, to Ciudad Rodrigo, in 2000.

He will try to win the World Championships time trial and road race this year, he said. The respective championships are will be held on September 24 and 27 in Mendrisio, Switzerland. The road course will be one of the hardest since 2003 in Hamilton, Canada.

The Vuelta is Vinokourov's first race back with team Astana, the team he helped form in 2006. Team Manager Johan Bruyneel initially had problems with Vinokourov joining the team at the conclusion of his suspension. Bruyneel will not be present at the Vuelta, with Sean Yates and Alexandr Shefer to act as Astana's directors for the race.

Vinokourov raced the Tour de l'Ain and Asian championships as part of the Kazakh national team.

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