Name: Alexandre Vinokourov (Алексaндр Винокуров)
Role: Team leader and all-rounder
2011 World Tour ranking: 16
Twitter: None. He’s a bit media shy – I wonder why?
- Tour of Basque Country: won stage 3, 8th overall
- Tour de Romandie: won stage 3, 3rd overall
- Criterium du Dauphine: 2nd in prologue, 3rd overall, 2nd in points classification
Why I like him:
He first came to my attention at the Tour de France in 2004, where the German television commentators constantly speculated on how he might have affected the outcome of the race. I was intrigued as to why someone who wasn’t even in the race generated so much interest. All was revealed with his battling performance at the Tour in 2005.
Alex polarises opinion, he generates column inches on and off the bike. On it, he’s exciting to watch. You’re never too sure exactly what he’s going to do but you know that at some point he’s going to attack. He’s one tough cookie but he’s got a very soft centre and is a devoted family man.
2012 will most probably be Alex’s last season as a professional racer, thereafter he could become part of the Astana management team or a politician back home in Kazakhstan.
Where to see him in 2012:
He’s going to start his season in Malaysia; first at the Asian Championships and then at the Tour of Langkawi. It’s important for Kazakhstan to support races on the Asian circuit and Alex has fond memories of the one and only time he rode here at the end of his amateur career. He’ll be riding with an all-Kazakh squad.
Thereafter, leading up to the Tour and Olympics, I would anticipate his programme to be not too different to 2011’s, possibly taking in Paris-Nice, Tour of Basque Country, Tour de Romandie, Dauphine and a couple of the one-day classics.
Watch out for regular updates tracking Alexandre Vinokourov’s 2012 season over the coming months.