Kazakhstan: Vino Bows Out

11 Oct

Kazakhstan’s star cyclist Alexandre Vinokourov has finally hung up his trouser clips as he brought his chequered pro-cycling career to a close with a win in the jubilee criterium race on the streets of his adopted home city of Monaco.

Vinokourov – known to his fans simply as Vino, had many highs and lows in his 14-year career as a pro-cyclist. He ended on a high note by taking gold in the Men’s Cycling Road Race in this year’s London Olympics, which he added to his silver medal from Sydney in 2004.

The lows included a scandal-hit Tour de France in 2007 when he was kicked out for failing a blood-doping test. This earned him a two-year ban from the sport. In 2011 he was embroiled in a scandal that saw him accused of bribing a fellow rider to let him win a race.

It is likely that Vino will now take up a position on the management side of the Astana pro-cycling team that was set up around him in 2006 by a consortium of Kazakh companies. Another option is politics in his native Kazakhstan – he was listed as a candidate for Nur Otan in January’s parliamentary vote.

However, the smart money’s on the high-life in Monaco and the buzz of the pro-cycling circuit rather than the somewhat less attractive lure of entering Astana’s turgid political scene.  If he does opt for Kazakhstan, then the cheating and corruption allegations will stand him in good stead for a life in politics.

His retirement comes at a time when  former Astana team mate, Lance Armstrong,  finally faces the music with the sheer weight of evidence provided by the United States anti-Doping Agency pointing to long-term,  systematic doping in Armstrong’s past before he joined Astana.



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