Vinokourov to lead Astana at Le Tour de Langkawi

Dec 20. Bernama. KUALA LUMPUR

Vinokourov to lead Astana at Le Tour de LangkawiKazakhstan will be banking on their experienced rider, Alexandre Vinokourov, to lead their pro tour team – Pro Team Astana – at next year’s Le Tour de Langkawi (LTdL).

The 38-year-old Vinokourov, who will be running for Kazakhstan’s parliamentary seat in January, will be making a return to the race where it all started for him 15 years ago.

“It’s a great honour for us to welcome Vinokourov back to Malaysia. We wish him to come as a rider, team captain and Member of Parliament,” said 2012 LTdL Chief Operating Officer Emir Abdul Jalal in a statement yesterday.

Vinokourov will be accompanied by the team’s sprinter Assan Bazayev and Alexandre Dyachenko (who finished ninth at the 2011 world championship), Dimitriy Gruzdev, Valentin Iglinskiy (winner of Tour of Hainan in 2010 and 2011) and Andrey Zeits (runner-up of 2011 Tour of Turkey).

“It’s a really nice team that Astana is sending to Malaysia. Their presence is the only Pro Team from Asia and adds credence to the Le Tour de Langkawi that has been the highest ranked cycling race in Asia for many years,” added Emir.

Vinokourov has expressed his eagerness to be back and race again in Malaysia.

“I’ve always wanted to do this race again but it was not on my team’s calendar or appropriate for my race schedule.

“Le Tour de Langkawi has a special place in my heart and I always knew that it is a very well organised race,” said Vinokourov, who took part in the second edition of the Le Tour de Langkawi in 1997.

Vinokourov who was a member of the Kazakhstan’s national team that year, was scouted by Gilles Mas, who directed Casino Team, which took part in LTdL.

The 17th edition of LTdL which will be held from Feb 24 to March 4 is organised by the National Sports Council (NSC) as a mark of continuity to the organisation of the Ministry of Youth and Sports in 2010 and 2011 in collaboration with the Malaysian National Cycling Federation.

The race maintained its 2.HC (Hors Classe) status and is recognised and sanctioned by the International Cycling Union (UCI) and UCI Asia Tour and is expected to feature 22 teams.

The 10-day race which covers a distance of 1,410.7km, starts with the Individual Time Trial (ITT) event in Putrajaya.