Happy birthday Alexandre Vinokourov

Alexandre Vinokourov Poptastic (thanks to Panache)

Happy Birthday Alexandre – С Днем Рождения Александр.

The sun has set on Alex’s career as a racer. His last ride, for sentimental reasons, was the Clasica San Sebastian where I heard his short retirement speech in the press room after the race. Yes, he’d come to show off his Olympic jersey(s) and his striking gold bike, giving them another outing before hanging them up in his trophy cabinet along with the gold medal he won in the road race at this year’s Olympics: a fitting end to his 15-year career. He’d also come to try and win after finishing runner-up to this year’s winner Luis Leon Sanchez (Rabobank) two years ago. It wasn’t to be but, as always, he tried to win. An attitude much appreciated by the crowd, his popularity among the Basque cycling aficionados evident by the number of autographs he handed out and all those queuing to have their photo taken with him one last time.

While no official announcement has yet been made, we fully anticipate seeing Alex behind the wheel of an Astana-badged car next year passing on his words of wisdom and race-craft to his team.

Or does Alex have his heart set on getting behind the wheel of a more powerful car? (image courtesy of Alex Vinokourov)

So as we light the 39 candles on his glittering birthday cake, let’s take a look back over Alex’s long and successful career with a selection of videos and photographs.

Here’s one of the many tribute videos on YouTube displaying his attacking spirit:

Alex has also been a faithful supporter of the local cycling club, which each year hosts a sportif in memory of Alex’s late friend and fellow rider Andrei Kivilev. He and other local professionals take part whenever possible and he provides plenty of Astana goodies for the obligatory post-race tombola.

Alex in one of his limited edition Vino-4-ever outfits at the start of La Laurentine Andrei Kivilev (image courtesy of Stade Laurentin Cyclisme)

Trio of Kazakhs, including Alex, riding in support of their fallen colleague (image courtesy of Stade Laurentin Cyclisme)

We’ve already covered his winning the Olympic gold medal, but here’s a post-Olympics interview in London:

Clasica San Sebastian 2012: Alex's blinged up shirt

Clasica San Sebastian 2012: Alex’s blinged-up shirt (image courtesy of RDW)

He’s recently been back in Kazakhstan with the other Olympic athletes to receive recognition of their achievements in London 2012 from the government. Here’s a clip about Alex which was shown on Kazakh television:

Alex and other Kazakh Olympic athletes (image courtesy of Alex Vinokourov)

Finally, here is a picture of what Alex values the most: his family. No doubt they’ll be helping him to blow out all those candles!

The Vinokourovs en famille and, yes, the twins are seriously cute! (image courtesy of Alex Vinokourov)

The Monagesque Cycling Federation is holding a farewell criterium race for Alex around the port of Monaco on Sunday 7th October. There’ll be one race for the amateurs and one for the professionals. Further information here.

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