Friday Feature: Jubilé Vinokourov photo gallery

Alexandre Vinokourov celebrated his official retirement in Monaco last month and VeloVoices was on hand. The activites kicked off on Saturday evening with a short transmission on Les Rois de la Pedale broadcast on French Eurosport with Alex and some of his guests who would be ‘competing’ the following day in his invitational criterium: Jubilé Vinokourov.

Here’s Vicent Lavenu, general manager of AG2R La Mondiale, who recruited Alex to ride for what was then the Casino team, no doubt sharing a few of his memories of Alex’s early days with the viewers. With their backs to the camera –  from left to right – Jacky Durand (French Eurosport), the great Eddy Merckx and, side on, Guillaume di Grazia (French Eurosport).

There’s a few Rois in this photo (image courtesy of astana fans)

The gentleman in the rear of the photo is Alex’s dad who bravely took part in the following day’s criterium along with a number of Alex’s closest family friends from his amateur club in St Etienne plus a number of the Kazakh officials and embassy staff, who were also in attendance for this prestigious event which was filmed for Kazakh television.

Messrs Van Petegem, Tchmill, Lelangue and Ullrich await their turn in the spotlight

The racing took place on Sunday afternoon. First a race for local amateurs and then the main event. But there was just time for a few questions beforehand with the local press who gamely also participated – well, for a few rounds, at least.

A few questions from the local press before the race

The eagle-eyed among you will note that the Astana boys are all in special shirts. These were worn to publicize Astana’s bid to host Expo 2017. It’s in competition with Liege, Belgium, and the winner will be announced in December 2012.

Is that yet another non UCI-approved jersey? (image courtesy of astana fans)

A number of the latest Vino-4-ever shirts on the shoulders of Alex’s St Etienne family.

Alex with some of his closest friends and family before the start

Alex’s daughter, Irina and her doggie, Lola, lend their support

Monaco resident Chris Froome (Sky) was happy to take part out of respect for Alex and his distinguished career.

Chris Froome proved popular with the fans. Will 2013 be his year?

Alex had rounded up quite a large team to support him in the race. In fact, it was anyone in Astana colours not riding in the Tour of Bejing, plus new recruits Vincenzo Nibali and Valerio Agnoli. This meant his team was much larger than anyone else’s.

Enrico Gasparotto, winner of this year’s Amstel Gold, relaxed before the start

Alex had wisely given the boys mountain bikes – no sense in letting them beat him just yet. They happily rode at the front of the peloton for the first few largely processional laps of the 50 lap criterium.

Alex and his twin sons

All ready for the off – left to right – UC Monaco President Umberto Langelotti, 2013 Astana recruit Vincenzo Nibali, Jan Ullrich  – now sponsored by a shampoo – Alex, Eddy Merckx, Richard Virenque, Vincent Lavenu and Fast Phil Gil in his all-white world champ’s strip. On your marks, get set, go …

Gallery of rogues or legends: you decide!

Now, don’t forget, it’s my party so you’ve got to let me win. Drinks on me later

The first ten laps were ridden at a gentle pace but as soon as the tempo was upped and the racing proper started Messrs Merckx and Ullrich were out the back and off their bikes while Richard Virenque rode gamely on, despite being lapped.

What do you suppose these two are chatting about?

Words of racing wisdom for one of the twins. How soon before they can beat Dad?

Don’t you just love the ‘Vino forever’ signs?

Everyone’s chasing Fast PhilGil

Recognise the rider in red and white? Yes, that’s Davide Rebellin  – 41 years young and still competing.

Yaroslav Popovich and Chris Froome lead the chasing pack

Trademark attack from Vino on his golden bike with two laps to go

There was only ever going to be one winner!

Was it only me who noticed that Vincenzo punctured, stopped, changed his wheel and rejoined the race after missing a lap?

How big is that cup? It’s a whopper!

Yes, that is the lovely Mrs Gilbert  – a willing recruit as a podium girl – in the background along with young Alain clutching his shades.  Poppo’s wife was also pressed into service but, unfortunately, the cameraman’s blocking our view of her but you can just see her red dress.

The winners perfect their champagne spraying technique

Thanks, guys, that went all over me!

Kazakh champagne! Do the French know about this?                                            (image courtesy of astana fans)

He’s a bit of a cutie isn’t he? I was of course referring to Alain Gilbert in his Tintin t-shirt.

It was very much a family affair with young Alain [Gilbert] helping out while his mum was a podium girl

The race was followed by a knees-up [don’t you mean ‘gala dinner’? – Ed] at the Fairmount and predictably the following day it was announced that Alex would be taking up a role as a manager next year at Team Astana.

My cameraman – now relieved of his duties – left his camera battery at home so I had to rely on mobile phones, friends, Twitter  – particularly Michelle Cound – and Astana fans for photographs. Many grateful thanks to you all.