Alexander Vinokourov scored his first race win since returning from a two-year doping ban on Tuesday at the Tour de l'Ain. Riding for the Kazakh national team, Vinokourov won the 8.8km time trial in St. Genis-Pouilly over Dutch rider Michiel Elijzen (Silence-Lotto).
Still hoping to come to an agreement with the Astana squad, with which he had a contract at the time of his ban for blood doping in the 2007 Tour de France, Vinokourov hinted that he may earn the team's good graces by helping American Chris Horner secure the overall victory.
"I wanted to go to all out. My goal was to test myself to see what level I could attain against the clock," said Vinokourov after the stage, but denied that he was out to get revenge for his time off the bike.
"I just wanted to show everyone that I could still win races. It is done. This morning in the mountain stage, my goal was not to give 100 percent and blow my motor. I merely followed the pack. I was pretty good, at least I thought I was. Now, I hope that the administrative problems will be resolved so that I can contest the end of the season with Astana. Will I help Chris Horner to win? Why not ... "
Vinokourov returned to competition for the first time this week after serving his two-year ban. The rider had been unable to come to an agreement with his former team, Astana, in time to start with the squad and was racing for his national team.
The time trial was the second of two half stages on Tuesday. In the morning's mountainous 103km stage finishing atop Mont Jura, Vinokourov finished well off the pace of the leading group, losing 3:45.
American Chris Horner, who finished second on the morning's stage, assumed the race lead following the afternoon time trial. He finished third in the test, 13 seconds behind Vinokourov.
The morning's leader Ludovic Turpin (AG2R) lost 24 seconds to Horner, who now leads the Frenchman by 19 seconds.
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