Vinokourov to lead Astana at the Giro d'Italia

Alexandre Vinokourov will lead a largely Kazakh Astana line-up at this year's Giro d'Italia. Vinokourov has recently won Liege-Bastogne-Liege and the Giro del Trentino, making him a possible outsider for overall victory. The Astana team also includes Italian sprinter Enrico Gasparotto and the Ukraine's Andriy Grivko.

36-year old Vinokourov has said that his aim is to wear the leader's pink jersey “for one day” during his Giro debut. He told the Belgian website Sporza, “I don't want to talk about winning” the race, because I don't want to put too much pressure on myself.”

Vinokourov will be supported by fellow Kazakhs Alexandr Dyachenko, Valentin Iglinksy, Roman Kireyev as well as Gorazd Stangelj, Enrico Gasparotto, Andriy Grivko, Josep Jufre and Paolo Tiralongo.

Vinokourov first announced that he would be riding this year's Giro in December. "I will start the Giro for the first time, without any pressure; [I'll take it] step-by-step. If I have good condition and motivation then maybe I can arrive on the podium. There is not a long time trial, which would suit me. There are lots of mountain stages, but if I have good condition then all is possible. If not then I will just aim for a stage win."

However, the Giro is only one of Vinokourov's goals for the season. He also hopes to ride the Tour de France alongside Alberto Contador. It will be the first time he rides the Tour de France since testing positive for blood doping during the 2007 edition of the race.

“Taking part in the Tour de France, supporting Albert and winning the Tour with him is my next one,” he said after his win in Liege.

"After riding the Giro d'Italia I will try to recover as much as possible. I hope to be at the start of the Tour and I'll try to support Alberto. He's young and has the potential to win again."

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