Vinokourov to target podium finish in Tour de France

June 24. VeloNation

Vinokourov to target podium finish in Tour de FranceVeteran rider Alexandre Vinokourov has set a podium finish as his goal in what could be his final Tour de France, and will be backed by the talented Czech Roman Kreuziger in the race.

The Astana squad is setting out with specific targets, and is aiming high with its leader. “We will give the maximum for general ranking with Alexandre Vinokourov, to finish on the podium or near the podium,” said general manager Giuseppe Martinelli to VeloNation today. “We have a strong team, so we can fight for team classification. And we would be glad to have a stage victory with any rider of the team.”

The Kazakh team is the latest to confirm its lineup for the Tour, listing a multinational team for cycling’s top event. Apart from Vinokourov and Kreuziger, it will also include the talented French climber and Paris-Nice stage winner Remy Di Gregorio, the Kazakhstan riders Dmitriy Fofonov, Maxim Iglinskiy and Andrey Zeits, the Ukrainian Andriy Grivko, Italian Paolo Tiralongo and Tomas Vaitkus from Lithuania.

Vinokourov showed strong form recently in the Crit?rium du Dauphin?, where he finished third overall. He won stages in the Vuelta al Pais Vasco and the Tour de Romandie, and finished third overall in the latter. He was also fourth in Fl?che Wallonne.

Kreuziger has twice finished ninth overall in the Tour and was sixth in this year’s Giro d’Italia. Still just 25 years of age, he is regarded as a possible Tour contender. However he has agreed to back Vinokourov in the French race, and will be a valuable ally.

Vinokourov was sixteenth overall last year, winning stage 13 to Revel. His best overall finish in the Tour was third in 2003. He served a two year suspension after a positive test in the 2007 race, and has since returned to strong form.

Astana for Tour de France : Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz), Remy Di Gregorio (Fra), Dmitriy Fofonov (Kaz), Andriy Grivko (Ukr), Maxim Iglinskiy (Kaz), Roman Kreuziger (Cze), Paolo Tiralongo (Ita), Tomas Vaitkus (Ltu) and Andrey Zeits (Kaz)