Convicted doper Alexander Vinokourov will return to competitive cycling at the Tour de l’Ain in August, a UCI 2.1-ranked stage race in France.
Widely rumoured to be returning to the sport in Astana colours, he will in fact ride the Tour de l’Ain for the Kazakh National team, despite the fact that the Astana team is also set to ride the event.
“Vinokourov will definitely be in the race,” confirmed race spokesman Laurent Servaes to Cycling Weekly this morning.
“The Rhône-Alpes is where he started cycling, so it’s great to for us to have him in the race, he had some great results in the past”.
The Kazakh rider was disqualified from the 2007 Tour de France after testing positive for a homologous blood transfusion, after which ASO forced his Astana team to leave the race in disgrace.
He later confirmed his intention to retire from professional cycling, but stated in 2008 that he would make a comeback to the sport in 2009.
Servaes’ comments pointed towards the Kazakh competing in this year’s Vuelta a España for the Astana team but this has still yet to be confirmed by Astana.
“[There is] no news about it,” Astana team spokesman Philippe Maertens told Cycling Weekly.
“There is for the moment no contact between the team management and Vinokourov”.
Interestingly enough, the rumour appears to hold enough weight for Maertens to say “for the moment”. It seems only a matter of time before Vinokourov will be back in Astana colours.
The Tour de l’Ain runs from August 9-12.