Alexandre Vinokourov to make surprise return for Giro di Lombardia?

Kazakh appeared to have ridden last race when he crashed out of Tour, but may be back for one last ride

by Simon_MacMichael   August 22, 2011  

Giro di Lombardia copyright Philip van der Ploeg Il Lombardia.jpg

Alexandre Vinokourov is set to make a surprise return to racing in October’s Giro di Lombardia. It had been thought that the Kazakh had ridden his last professional race during last month’s Tour de France, when he crashed out on Stage 9, fracturing his femur.

The rider had always planned to retire at the end of this season and take up some kind of back-room role at Astana, although with a two-year doping ban on his record, new UCI rules mean he cannot take up a role as team manager or directeur sportif.

That Tour de France crash appeared to have brought Vinokourov's retirement forward, however, the Astana rider has set his sights on one last race after visiting his surgeon, Professor Yves Catonné, at the Pitié Salpêtrière Hospital in Paris at the weekend to check on the progress he has made since his accident.

"The exams revealed that I'm recovering very well from my injury after my crash in last Tour de France,” said Vinokourov in a statement published on the Astana website.

“The doctors told me that if I wish, I could start training in the coming days. So, if everything goes well, I may compete for Tour de Lombardie, which is the last race of the season and could be the last race to end my career.

“This would be also a last occasion for me to contribute to increase the UCI points of Pro Team Astana and for the Kazakh Federation, in anticipation of the selections for the Olympic Games," he added.

Vinokourov’s injuries were the worst sustained on a crash-strewn stage in which other riders including Jurgen Van Den Broeck also saw their Tour de France come to an end.

The day is also remembered for Europcar rider Thomas Voeckler taking the yellow jersey and for Team Sky’s Juan Antonio Flecha being sideswiped by a car belonging to France Télévisions, an incident that resulted in fellow escapee Johnny Hoogerland crashing into a barbed wire fence.