Vino’s back. Did anyone miss him?
After two years out in the Kazak cold for blood doping, Alexander Vinokourov returns to team Astana. His first big announcements: that he wants Contador to stay and second that he’ll ride for him in the tour.
All that enforced time off the bike must have warped Vino’s sense of timing. It was a nice sentiment but perhaps he should have bought Alberto a few shots of vodka and invited him to hunt wild boar at Vino’s hunting lodge. He could also have mentioned he was talking a Berlitz Spanish class. But mostly, he should have mention he wanted Contador before the Spanish rider had turned down Astana’s big money offer.
That said, why would Contador put any faith in Vino’s pronouncements? In the 2005 Tour de France and riding for T-Mobile squad, Vino was supposed to support Jan Ullrich. Instead he had a nasty habit of launching his own attacks — that his team was forced to chase down. The hero of Kazak, riding in the Astana team he nominally put together, doesn’t have a lot of incentive to ride for anyone. Give him another shot at tour glory and he won’t think twice.
Whatever old Vino’s statements, Contador would find himself in the same situation he was with Armstrong: battling for the lead spot in a team that will be half Kazak, half Spanish. An ugly deja-vu. Vinokourov upstaged Astana director Bruyneel and helped push him out the door. Anyone taking over that job in walking into a political minefield. Blood doping and bad blood go together.
Perhaps Vinokourov had no intention for wanting Contador. That would explain his comically late timing. Vino’s back. Kazakhstan cheers. Everybody else, well, we’ll wait and see.