Alexandre Vinokourov’s win at Liège-Bastogne-Liège today in Belgium left fans with mixed emotions. On one hand, it was a strong-willed attack in cycling’s oldest race, but on the other, this is the same Kazakh that sullied the 2007 Tour de France when he was caught blood doping.

“That was another time. I do not want to talk about it again. We are here to talk about my victory, not about doping,” Vinokourov explained after his win ahead of Russian Alexandr Kolobnev. “I have been suspended for two years and I paid.”

Vinokourov never confessed to doping, which makes the victory harder for fans to accept. He said that he would retire after he was caught and he only received a two-year suspension when the International Cycling Union (UCI) caught wind that he wanted to return.

He easily found himself a place back in cycling with a top-level team, Astana – his own team. He brought in the Kazakhstan sponsor to replace Liberty Seguros one year after he won Liège-Bastogne-Liège racing for T-Mobile.

“The win is a big one, five years after the first. It was a big dream for the team and Kazakhstan.”

To be fair, the 36-year-old soft-spoken rider did serve out his suspension period. But, can fans still trust a former doper?

“I showed that Vino is here, Vino c’est la classe. I am finished with this wrong and dark page of my history. I would like to show all of you that I can win great races without doping. I am trying to earn your trust. Today is the best proof and revenge for me.

“I worked a lot in two years and I wanted to come back as soon as possible and as effectively as possible. I showed it last year, I was present in the Tour of Lombardy and won other races when I came back.”

There are bound to be more awkward moments for fans in the coming months as Vinokourov will lead team Astana at the Giro d’Italia in May. And in July? You guessed it, Vinokourov is planning to help team-mate Alberto Contador win the Tour de France.

“I fulfilled my dream today. My last one could be to help Alberto to win a third Tour de France. I will decide after the Giro.”

Vinokourov owes a favour to the two-time Tour de France winner, who helped with today’s win. After the Roche aux Faucons climb, Vinokourov safely rode clear with Kolobnev because Contador marked the chasers behind.

Related links



Vinokourov gets ‘revenge’ at Liege: Race report and results

  • matt2thed

    “So how many previous dopers achieved anything substantial following their ‘comeback’. Basso, Heras, Beloki, Mayo, Landis, Rasmussen, Sella, Hamilton, etc, etc. Answer = nothing, ‘retired’ or busted again.
    Dave Millar? Middle-of-the-pack dreamer, certainly not a TdF or World champs contender since he returned.”

    well, to put the record straight. Basso=giro malia rosa
    Millar=TT world champ contender/silver/ best non cancallara.

  • Bob Atkins

    April 25 20:12
    Angharad

    He comes back from suspension and wins a classic–just like that? I wonder…

    If something looks wrong, it usually is………….

  • jorge goncalves

    At then end of the day, when both samples are positive a longer ban should be applied. As I don’t really agree with a 2 year ban, no he hasn’t done his time..in my opinion of course. On the other hand, how many Di Lucas’ are out there? How many people have been caught twice for doping? I find it hard to believe Vinokourov would continue doping.

  • Brian Reynolds

    Despite his past I like Vino…rBut not as much as I like Evans who had another great race. Overall tne Ardennes classics were way ahead better than Flanders or Roubaix…but Vino ,I’m not convinced that he’s riding on bread and water

  • Bernie

    Let’s face it. Vino’s ‘real’ crime was getting caught. There are plenty of other riders who have based an entire career on doping, some guided by Vino’s old ‘trainer’ Ferrari, who people would defend to last on the basis they have ‘never tested positive’ but nevertheless are still dopers.

  • Nicholas

    I think the reason so many cycling fans (myself included) feel so strongly about Vinokourov’s return to cycling and especially his return to the winner’s list is that we had invested so much in the cult that was Vino that when he was busted for doping we felt an enormous sense of betrayal. And to Vino? His two years out of the sport seems to be nothing more than an inconvenience. In fact the closest he has even come to acknowledging that he had actually done something wrong was in his comments after taking his victory yesterday. Such hubris leaves me sick to my stomach. Yes, Vino has complied with the letter of the law but he hasn’t come close to comprehending just how far he transgressed against the spirit of the law. I for one am not interested in throwing him out of the sport (unless and until he is busted again) but I certainly reserve my right to boo his victories, cheer his misfortune and give him a mouthful every time I see him turn the pedals in anger.

  • martin

    HE SHOULD NOT BE ALLOWED TO COMPETE. END OF STORY

  • Al

    Vino 1st and Valverde 3rd? It’s a joke. Spoilt the race, and certainly made me turn off.

  • rb

    whether he was doped yesterday or not and whether it was him or scarponi or di luca or hamilton or landis or any other ex doper (Millar included). I do not want to see ex dopers racing. I was indifferent to the race yesterday once it became apparent he was going to win. I was pleased to hear the boos at the finish line.

  • Angharad

    He comes back from suspension and wins a classic–just like that? I wonder…

  • Darb

    A great race until a certain Vinokourov crossed the line in first place. I guess he’s served his time for his crime; or has he?

    Not really the result I was hoping for and to think this now brings the curtain down on the Classics. Somehow leaves a sour tatse in the mouth on was has been a cracking month for racing……

  • A Tulett

    would anyone be sprouting this crap if David millar had just won, well done cycling weekly another pointless view.

  • rivetman

    So how many previous dopers achieved anything substantial following their ‘comeback’. Basso, Heras, Beloki, Mayo, Landis, Rasmussen, Sella, Hamilton, etc, etc. Answer = nothing, ‘retired’ or busted again.
    Dave Millar? Middle-of-the-pack dreamer, certainly not a TdF or World champs contender since he returned.
    So what new juice is powering Vinokourov? So, so unfair to the likes of Garmin, Sky, High Road etc.
    C’mon UCI sort it out!