We thought we’d seen the last of Alexander Vinokourov when he flew off the road in the Tour de France and broke his leg and a few other essentials. Said he was done, finished, limping off into the Kazakh sunset.
Vino is back again. Like Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Terminator cyborg, you simply can’t kill the thing. He’s not back to resurrect his career one more time — no, he’s fighting for the life and soul of his creation, team Astana, the pride of Kazakhstan.
“I created the Astana team in 2006 with the government of my country but I’ve felt since my crash at the Tour that some people have only one idea in their heads: get me out of the way,” Vino told French newspaper L’Equipe.
The “some people” in the quote were not named and the whole backstory has that old Soviet-style intrigue and power struggle vibe. It’s almost Cold War and if Vino was smart, he would enlist the CIA and MI5 to help overthrow the communist elements that now threaten the existence of his baby.
“I want to just save the Astana team,” professed Vino. “What’s been going on in the team in the last few weeks has worried me. Its image has been damaged by some people who think they can run a cycling team just because they’ve got a University diploma. They haven’t a clue.”
According to Vino the team will be demoted to a Professional Continental team without his points. He also claims Astana hasn’t hired any new riders of note to jack up the point total. Side point: who wants to ride for a volatile, crazy squad like Astana?
“I want to help Astana stay in the WorldTour. The new managers don’t understand the basics of the rules: the UCI points. Those who want to get rid of me are the same ones who hurt the team by losing my points. But without my points the team would be forced to become a Professional Continental team because they haven’t signed anyone for 2012.”
“Those people,” “some people,” “those that want to get ride of me.” It seems Vino has plenty of enemies back on the home front. He’s going to be a busy guy, what with the physical rehab and race training and the political high stakes games he’ll be playing.
Vino refuses to go quietly. He’s back until further notice and really, this should play out the way these things always do. Whoever wins the backing of the Kazakh army will be declared the winner.