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Alexander Vinokourov

Date of birth : 1973-09-16
Date of death : -
Birthplace : Petropavlovsk, Kazakhstan
Nationality : Kazakh
Category : Sports
Last modified : 2010-07-20

Alexander Nikolaevich Vinokourov, also written Alexandre Vinokourov, born September 16, 1973 in Petropavlovsk is a Kazakh professional road bicycle racer, an all-rounder. He is often called "Vino". Vinokourov was banned for a year for blood doping during the 2007 Tour de France and so retired. In September 2008 he said he would return to cycling in 2009. As of August 2009, Vinokourov is riding on the professional level again, rejoining Astana and taking victory in the 2010 Liège-Bastogne-Liège and stage 13 to Ravel in Tour de France.

Early amateur career

Vincent Lavenu, who offered Vinokourov his first professional contract, said Vinokourov was training every day at 11 and competed in cyclo-cross. Other accounts say he started at 13. In 1986, aged 13, Vinokourov became an athlete at the sports school in the capital of Kazakhstan, Almaty. The school was based on those in the Soviet Union. Vinokourov trained at the school for five years.

Kazakhstan was part of the Soviet Union and Vinokourov trained to compete with the Soviet national team. Around this time, he did his two-year military service.

Kazakhstan declared independence on 16 December 1991 and Vinokourov rode for Kazakhstan team. He came third behind Pascal Hervé of France in the Regio Tour amateur stage race in Germany in 1993. The race opened to professionals the following year and Vinokourov won in 2004. Other notable performances included winning two stages at the 1995 Tour of Ecuador and the 1996 Tour of Slovenia. He competed in the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta and finished 53rd.

Amateur career at Espoir cycliste St-Etienne Loire

Gilles Mas, directeur sportif of the Agrigel-La Creuse team, received a letter in winter 1996 from the trainer of the Kazakh team, who wanted to place six riders in professional teams. Mas tried two on condition they rode for the amateur Espoir Cycliste Saint-Etienne Loire (ECSEL) for a year. Mas and Pierre Rivory, of ECSEL, choose Andrey Mizurov and Vinokourov. Mizurov did not want to leave Kazakhstan. Vinokourov arrived on 22 March 1997 after completing the Tour of Malaysia. Lavenu said Vinokourov won this race.

Andrei Kivilev was with an amateur team in Burgos in Spain. He and Vinokourov were friends from the same sports school and kept phone contact. Vinokourov spoke to his club about a place for Kivilev. Kivilev had come 29th in the Olympic road race the previous year and the club gave him the place originally reserved for Mizourov. Kivilev arrived in St tienne in May 1997.

Vinokourov came second in a stage of the Tour of Auvergne two weeks after arriving and was best climber in a Coupe de France race a week later. Then, during a trial for the Casino professional team, the Tour of Saône et Loire, he won three of the four stages. the Essor Breton.Vinokourov won ten races for his club. Vincent Lavenu offered him a two-year professional contract during the summer of 1997 to ride for the Casino for the 1998 and 1999.

Vinokourov won six races in his first year, including the Four Days of Dunkirk, Tour de l'Oise, and stages in the Tour of Poland and Circuit des Mines. He won the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana stage race at the start of 1999 and three months later two stages of the Midi Libre. He won the Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré, beating the American, Jonathan Vaughters. Vinokourov lost the yellow jersey to Vaughters after the Mont Ventoux time trial but regained it on the following mountain stage.After this display, he was seen as a potential future tour contender.

In 2000 he joined Team Telekom. He won the combination competition in Paris-Nice and finished third in the Critérium International. He came 15th in the Tour de France after working for captain Jan Ullrich. His first win for the German team was stage 18 in the Vuelta a España, in which he caught the two riders in the breakaway and sprinted past Roberto Laiseka and Vicente Garcia Acosta in the last 300 metres. He came second several weeks later in the Olympic Games behind Ullrich and in front of another Telekom teammate, Andreas Kloden.

Vinokourov time-trialed to a stage win in the 2001 Deutschland Tour and took the yellow jersey from his Telekom teammate Erik Zabel. The dominance of the Telekom team was evident the following day when Rolf Aldag won and Vinokourov gained a minute and a half over the peloton to ensure victory. He rode the Tour de France that year in support of Ullrich, where he finished 16th overall.

Vinokourov won Paris-Nice in 2002, taking the leader's jersey after attacking Laurent Jalabert and Andrei Kivilev on Mont Faron. The penultimate stage to the Col d’Eze, a mountaintop finish, Vinokourov kept his lead and won Paris-Nice the following day. Later in 2002, he won the first mountain stage in the Tour de Suisse but several stages later he fell on a mountain descent and was taken to hospital after the stage. He abandoned the race to prepare for the Tour but it was discovered two weeks later that he had a broken coccyx and could not ride the 2002 Tour de France. Due to the absence of Ullrich for Team Telekom, Vinokourov was to be the leader that year.

A crash on the second stage of the 2003 Paris-Nice (won by Davide Rebellin ahead of Vinokourov and Dario Frigo) brought down Andrei Kivilev and two other riders. Kivilev fell into a coma and died during the night. Vinokourov was shocked and said he was more motivated than ever to win. The following day Vinokourov attacked on Mont Faron to win and take the leader’s jersey. It was an emotional win in which he pointed to the sky. Two days later, Vinokourov won Paris-Nice and held up a photograph of Kivilev on the podium.

Forty days later, after the traditional period for mourning in Kazakhstan, Vinokourov won the Amstel Gold Race. He reached the leaders group with 10 kilometres left and got away at five kilometres He built 15 seconds that he fought to maintain up the steep Cauberg hill, winning four seconds ahead of Michael Boogerd.

Vinokourov attacked on the flat first stage of the 2003 Tour de Suisse and only the Russian, Serguei Ivanov, could match him. Vinokourov won the stage and took the lead. Francesco Casagrande dropped Vinokourov on the first mountain stage and closed the gap to six seconds. Casagrande attacked again on the following mountain stage and took the jersey. But Casagrande cracked several days later in an individual time trial as Vinokourov finished fifth to retake the jersey and win the race.

Vinokourov was for the first time riding to win in the 2003 Tour de France. He was to share this role in his team with the Columbian, Santiago Botero. Vinokourov finished second on the stage to the l'Alpe d'Huez. He attacked the following day on the final climb 9 km from the finish and won the stage. He moved into second overall 21 seconds short of Lance Armstrong. Several days later in the individual time trial, won by Ullrich, Vinokourov took third position and kept it to the end. He was voted the most combative rider.

Vinokourov missed the break on the second stage of the 2004 Paris-Nice that gained five minutes. but he won three stages. He attacked towards the end of a small climb on the fifth stage with 8 km to go. He built ten seconds and won by four seconds. He dedicated the win to Kivilev.Vinokourov attacked the lead group on the flat windy coastal road in the finale of stage 7,with 5 km to go. He caught and passed Samuel Sánchez with 2 km to go and won the stage. Vinokourov won the final stage in a breakaway sprint against Denis Menchov .

Vinokourov came third in Liège-Bastogne-Liège, behind Davide Rebellin and Michael Boogerd. Boogerd and Vinokourov had been matching each other while Rebellin waited for the sprint and won. Vinokourov crashed on the second stage of the Tour de Suisse, tearing ligaments in his shoulder. That stopped his riding the 2004 Tour de France.

He returned for the Regio Tour at the start of August. In the second stage, he won the time trial. In the following stage, he won the bunch sprint and took the leader’s jersey to win. He then rode the Vuelta a España but due to food poisoning lost time during the first week.Vinokourov recovered and finished fourth in the time trial.He rode the world championship and took the bronze medal in the time trial.

Vinokourov’s first win in 2005 and the first for the team was Liège-Bastogne-Liège. He broke away with Jens Voigt with more than 50 km to go. Vinokourov attacked on the final short climb 6 km from the finish but could not get away from Voigt. Instead he waited and beat Voigt in the sprint. In the Dauphiné Libéré, Vinokourov won the stage on Mont Ventoux. He had attacked the favourites for the Tour de France, reaching the breakaway before attacking at several hundred metres on the uphill finish to win the stage. Vinokourov travelled back to Kazakhstan to win the national championship ahead of Mizourov and Kashechkin.

Vinokourov said in July 2005 that he was in as good condition as 2003, when he came third. Vinokourov said he was riding "for the team". The implication was that he would be leader if he or Andreas Klöden (second in 2004) rode better than Ullrich. Vinokourov came third in the opening time trial, beating Ullrich and Klöden by 15 seconds and 1:08. The American, Lance Armstrong, followed Vinokourov's attacks on stage 8 but let Klöden go. Vinokourov rode separately from his teammates, bringing speculation regarding Ullrich's role in the team.

Vinokourov lost time in the mountains. Revenge came when he won stage 11 in a break, outsprinting Santiago Botero.

Tension between Vinokourov and his team boiled on stage 14 into the Pyrenees where Vinokourov was dropped. He chased for 20 km and then attacked, but Kloden and Ullrich reeled him in, bringing criticism of T-Mobile's tactics which were apparently just to support Ullrich. Vinokourov settled his differences when he won stage 21 to Paris.

After 3rd place in the time trial in the penultimate stage, losing time to only Armstrong and Ullrich, Vinokourov moved to 6th, trailing Levi Leipheimer in 5th by two seconds. The final stage, usually a formality, became a showdown between Vinokourov and Leipheimer. A sprint prime with time bonuses came at 75 km in Châteny-Malabry. Leipheimer and his Gerolsteiner team came to the front. Leipheimer needed to prevent Vinokourov from getting it. Gerolsteiner set a fast tempo to discourage Vinokourov. But 1.5 km from the sprint, Vinokourov attacked. Soon only Leipheimer could hold his wheel, but he was not able to pass and so Vinokourov gained six seconds, Leipheimer four. Leipheimer was ahead only by a fraction of a second. When they reached Paris officials stopped the clock due to dangerous conditions (the cobblestone road was wet and slippery from rain), and the final sprint prime was cancelled.

Leipheimer said he was informed that normal bonus time for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place on the stage would also not be awarded. He and others thought Leipheimer had 5th place. In the final kilometers, several riders broke clear but were caught. Then, as the pace was increasing, Vinokourov moved to the front. With 2 km remaining, Laurent Brochard attacked and Vinokourov jumped on his wheel. A few seconds later Brad McGee closed the gap. When Brochard cracked, McGee moved to the front, but Vinokourov followed. They achieved a gap that could not be closed. McGee zigged and zagged, making Vinokourov work, but Vinokourov found enough power to pull around McGee and win.

That was victory made of courage and guts - I really gave it all in the last kilometres, although I didn't think it was possible until I crossed the line. I just went 'à bloc' - it's unbelievable, magnificent! I have no words for it...I did think a lot about Kivilev yesterday in St. Etienne, and I think that motivated me even more. I'm very happy to win.

Tour officials awarded time bonuses after all, so Vinokourov gained 20 seconds to put him into 5th place. As his contract with T-Mobile was up in 2005, many speculated which team he would join, and whether it would give him full support in 2006. The team turned out to be Manolo Saiz's Liberty Seguros-Würth team.

Liberty Seguros withdrew sponsorship on 25 May 2006 after the arrest of Manolo Saiz relating to blood doping. A coalition of companies from Kazakhstan took over sponsorship, now called Astana-Würth. On June 30, 2006, Astana-Würth withdrew from the 2006 Tour de France after five riders were implicated in the Operación Puerto doping case, leaving Vinokourov, one of the favorites, with three teammates, below the required six riders. Vinokourov was never accused or implicated.

In the Vuelta a España, the team was known simply as Astana after Würth departed sponsorship. After losing time in the first mountains, Vinokourov went into attack. He lost the 7th stage to Alejandro Valverde, took revenge by winning the 8th and 9th stages and climbed to 5th place at the end of the first week. After a good time trial, and aggressive climbing on stages 17 & 18 (stage 18 was won by Kashechkin), Vinokourov took first place and claimed the gold jersey from Valverde. After a strong time trial, his 3rd stage victory, Vinokourov won the Vuelta.

In the 2007 Tour de France, Vinokourov rode for a new team backed by the same Kazakh sponsors who had taken over Liberty Seguros in 2006. This team was also known as Astana. Vinokourov was aiming for victory in the Tour de France. After riding the Dauphiné Libéré, he started the 2007 Tour on July 7 in London. Vinokourov fell in the first week, injuring both knees. He lost time in the Alps, and fell from the list of contenders.

After being written off, Vinokourov won the first individual time trial by 1:14 from Cadel Evans. Vinokourov said: "I am happy with my performance, I am finding my legs again. Now I want to attack in the Pyrénées. I want to thank everyone in and around the team that encouraged me to get through the Alps." He also secured a win in stage 15, a mountain stage finishing in Loudenvielle.

The following day, on July 24, Vinokourov failed the doping control following his time trial victory. His blood had a double population of erythrocytes, which implied a homologous transfusion. He delivered a positive for blood doping on 24 July 2007.

As a result, his Astana team pulled out after being requested to withdraw by ASO president Patrice Clerc

Vinokourov's B sample came back positive a few days later, and Cadel Evans was declared winner of stage 13. Vinokourov was stripped of his stage 15 victory, which was awarded to Kim Kirchen of Luxembourg. According to Phil Liggett, long-time commentator for the Tour, "It is incomprehensible that Vinokourov could do such a thing when he must have known he was under suspicion because of his dealing with disgraced doctor Michele Ferrari in Italy. He must have known he would be tested at every opportunity, and the time trial was the perfect occasion."

Vinokourov received a one-year suspension from the Kazakhstan cycling federation The UCI was angered by the short ban—a lighter sentence than those received by other "doper" cyclists found guilty, such as Tyler Hamilton and Ivan Basso--which would allow him to ride in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Astana has threatened to sue Vinokourov for damages, as has Cadel Evans and team Predictor-Lotto, due to the publicity they lost for Evans not being named the winner at the time of the stage.

In December 2007, Vinokourov announced his retirement.

Vinokourov, banned for a year after doping at the 2007 Tour de France, told the Belgian TV programme, Sporza, in September that he wanted to race again in 2009. He said: "I love cycling. I want to come back because I didn't want to end my career in this way. I feel as if I can win once again the big races."

The UCI then renewed an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, asking it to overturn the one-year suspension by the Kazakh federation and to impose a standard two-year ban. This appeal, originally filed in 2007, was dropped when Vinokourov said he was retiring.The case was retabled and the CAS said the ban would expire on 24 July 2009.

Vinokourov made his comeback in Tour de l'Ain in August 2009, riding for Kazakhstan. In the third stage, a time trial over 8.6 km, he won his first race after his ban. Vinokourov re-joined Astana on 24 August 2009 and was named for the 2009 Vuelta a España.

Vinokourov won the 2010 Liège–Bastogne–Liège, six seconds clear of Russia's Alexandr Kolobnev with Spain's Alejandro Valverde third.

Palmares:

1998 – Casino-AG2R Prévoyance

* 1st Overall, Four Days of Dunkirk
* 1st Overall, Tour de Picardie
o 1st, Stage 2a
* 1st Overall, Circuit de Lorraine
o 1st, Stage 4
* 1st, Stage 6, Tour de Pologne
* 2nd Overall, Vuelta a Murcia
* 2nd, Grand Prix de la Ville de Lillers

1999 – Casino-AG2R Prévoyance

* 1st Jersey yellow.svg Overall, Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré
o 1st, Stage 2
* 1st Overall, Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana
o 1st, Stage 5b
* 2nd Overall, Grand Prix du Midi Libre
o 1st, Stage 2
o 1st, Stage 6
* 1st, Stage 3, Tour du Limousin

2000 – Team Telekom

* 1st, Stage 18, Vuelta a España
* 1st, Stage 1 (TTT), Tour de Suisse
* 2nd Silver medal.svg, Summer Olympics: Men's Road Race
* 3rd Overall, Critérium International

2001 – Team Telekom

* 1st Jersey yellow.svg Overall, Deutschland Tour
o 1st, Stage 6
* 1st, Stage 4, Tour de Suisse

2002 – Team Telekom

* 1st Jersey yellow.svg Overall, Paris–Nice
o 1st, Stage 4
* 1st, Stage 3, Tour de Suisse

2003 – Team Telekom

* 1st, Amstel Gold Race
* 1st Jersey yellow.svg Overall, Paris-Nice
o 1st, Stage 5
* 1st Jersey yellow.svg Overall, Tour de Suisse
o 1st, Stage 1
* 3rd Overall, Tour de France
o 1st, Stage 9
* 3rd Overall, Deutschland Tour

2004 – T-Mobile Team

* 1st Overall, Regio-Tour
o 1st, Stage 2
o 1st, Stage 3
* 1st, Stage 5, Paris-Nice
* 1st, Stage 7, Paris-Nice
* 1st, Stage 8, Paris-Nice
* 3rd, UCI Road World Championships Time Trial
* 3rd, Liège-Bastogne-Liège

2005 – T-Mobile Team

* 1st, Liège-Bastogne-Liège
* 1st, MaillotKaz.PNG National Road Race Championship
* 1st, Stage 4, Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré
* 5th Overall, Tour de France
o 1st, Stage 11
o 1st, Stage 21

2006 – Liberty Seguros-Würth

* 1st Jersey gold.svg Overall, Vuelta a España
o 1st, Jersey white.svg Combination classification
o 1st, Stage 8
o 1st, Stage 9
o 1st, Stage 20
* 1st Overall, Vuelta a Castilla y León
o 1st, Stage 5
* 3rd, UCI Road World Championships Time Trial

2007 – Astana

* 1st Jersey green.svg Points classification, Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré
o 1st, Stage 3
o 1st, Stage 7
* 3rd Overall, Tirreno–Adriatico

2009 – Astana

* 1st, Chrono des Nations
* 1st, Asian Cycling Championships Time Trial
* 1st, Stage 3b, Tour de l'Ain

2010 – Astana

* 1st, Liège–Bastogne–Liège
* 1st Stage 13 Tour de France
* 1st Overall, Giro del Trentino
o 1st, Stage 1 (ITT)


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