Vinokourov continues comeback at Tour de l’Ain

August 09. AP. SAINT-DENIS-LES-BOURG, France

Alexandre Vinokourov continued his comeback from a two-year doping ban when he finished in the main pack of riders on Sunday’s opening stage of the Tour de L’Ain.

French rider Mickael Buffaz of the Cofidis team won the stage in 3 hours, 18 minutes, 48 seconds, with Remi Cusin finishing four seconds behind in second place, and Dutch rider Floris Goesinnen eight seconds back in third.

The 35-year-old Vinokourov finished the 146.5-kilometer (91-mile) flat stage from Bourg-en-Bresse to Saint-Denis-les-Bourg in 81st place in a large group of riders that finished 47 seconds behind Buffaz.

Vinokourov, yet to be accepted back on the Astana team, was riding for Kazakhstan’s national team.

On Tuesday, Vinokourov raced for the first time since his ban for blood doping ended last month, finishing seventh in the 45-kilometer (28-mile) Castillon-La-Bataille criterium race, also in France.

The Tour de l’Ain should provide a stiffer test as it is raced over four days and features two stages on day three a climb followed by a time trial.

Vinokourov was banned when racing for Astana at the 2007 Tour de France. In June, the Court of Arbitration for Sport upheld Vinokourov’s two-year ban for blood doping.

The Kazakhstan cycling federation gave him just a one-year ban, but cycling’s governing body the UCI filed an appeal with CAS to impose the standard suspension. Vinokourov has always denied doping during the 2007 Tour.

He finished third at the 2003 Tour and fifth in 2005.