VINOKOUROV BOUNCES BACK IN VUELTA
Kazakh Alexandre Vinokourov showed that not even all the problems his Astana team have faced over the past few months can faze him as he stormed home for a Tour of Spain stage victory in Lugo.
In a move which will have had many fans remembering Vino’s successful late attack on the Champs Elysées in 2005, Vinokourov charged off less than 500 metres from the line on stage eight to take a win by just one second over a 60-strong bunch containing all the main favourites.
It was an apt sporting revenge for the Kazakh after he had been overtaken by Alejandro Valverde close to the summit finish of El Morredero 24 hours before.
“I was itching to do something like that after I was caught by Valverde so close to the line yesterday and almost won.” he explained later.
“The bunch did a lap of the finishing circuit in Lugo and I saw there was a slight rise just before the finish.”
“I knew then that I would have a chance of staying away.”
Thanks to time bonuses, Vinokourov has now moved back into tenth place overall, 2-07 down on race leader Janez Brajkovic (Discovery Channel).
“I’m not ruling out the overall by any means.” he insisted. “There’s still two weeks to go in this race.”
Sunday’s stage, though, Vinokourov will have to be up there with the favourites again, as the riders face the toughest day of the entire Vuelta.
Four major climbs, with a summit finish on the Alto de La Cobertoria deep in northern Asturias, will almost certainly produce some big changes overall and - as Alejandro Valverde put it - “we’ll see who the real contenders are for the final two weeks of racing.”