Sport • 15 November, 2017

Alexander Vinokourov: Homegrown cyclists are capable to compete at world scale level

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This year Astana Pro Team has had both victories and defeats. In the beginning of the year, the team`s situation on world competitions left much to be desired. Then they managed to win the Grand Tour’s stages. While our bike team was losing and winning, we accumulated several questions. Therefore, we interviewed the captain of the team Alexander Vinokourov to ask our questions about Astana team and cycling in Kazakhstan in general.

– The Astana cycling team started in 2017 with a lot of new things. Bicycles and team T-shirts were changed. Did the team achieve its goals?

– You are right; we started the season 2017 with an update. We renewed everything from bikes to team`s T-shirts. We also changed the composition of the riders. At the beginning of the year, we had many failures. The death of the experienced rider Michele Scarponi greatly influenced the team members. Bicyclists often fell and got injured. In the second half of the year, the team was lucky.

We can say that the young Colombian team rider Miguel Angel Lopez began to show himself from the best side. Jakob Fuglsang achieved his first victory as a member of our team. Alexey Lutsenko won in the Grand Tour stage. As you know, only the strongest sportsmen win in large-scale competitions.

– We are happy to see that the number of homegrown cyclists increased. They now consist one-third of the whole team. Whom would you emphasize among them?

– Astana takes part in worldwide tournaments and we cannot have weak riders. They all are strong cyclists. Therefore, we can say that the level of cycling in the country is much greater.

We take into our team only proven and reliable racing cyclists. For example, Astana Pro Team has 268 wins since the creation. 25 percent of them (68 wins) were won by riders from Kazakhstan. Of the young athletes can be noted Alexander Lutsenko. This year he proved that he is a talented cyclist.

We can also mention other guys such as Zhandos Bizhigitov and Bakhtiyar Kozhtayev. They are improving their skills and do a lot of practice. During one of the competitions, Tanel Kangert showed good results. But he got injured and got out of the match. If we had not had this failure, the victory would have been in our hands.

We must bear in mind that cycling is a teamwork. On this sport all, the crew might work only for one cyclist. We also prepared talented guys who will soon show their skills in the national team of Kazakhstan.

– What do you think, what would have happened if you had not lost Michele Scarponi and other guys such as Cataldo, Kangert, Fuglsang had not got injured?

– Astana is among favorite teams which always attempts to win in big tournaments such as Tour de France, Giro d`Italia, and The Vuelta.    

At the beginning of this year, we decided to prepare for the Giro with all our might. We chose Fabio Aru as a captain. Next to him was Scarponi, Kangert, Cataldo. As Aru got injured we replaced him by Michele Scarponi who died a couple of days of before the grand tour. This heavy loss greatly affected the team. So we went to the competition without the captain.

– This year the competition "Tour of Almaty" lasted for 2 days for the first time. What can you say about the future of this contest?

– The International Cycling Association is ready to include "Tour of Almaty" in the table competition. But these days next year will be the Tour de France.

The president of Kazakhstan cycling federation Darkhan Kaletaev recently met with the president of UCI to clarify the days of the competition. Soon we will know the answer.

We must raise the competition to the level of the tour. Then 10 teams of the world scale would take part in the "Tour of Almaty". We can organize the competition at the end of September. Soon we will decide everything.

–  Fabio Aru left the Astana. Who will be taken to the team for next year?

– We have already defined the team for 2018. Transfer issues have been resolved. Therefore, you will know who will ride for Astana on December 8 when we will present our team.

Interviewed by Yermuhamed Maulen,

Egemen Kazakhstan

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