Alexander Vinokourov racing the Tour of Spain?

Disgraced Kazakhstan interested in Astana, again

Disgraced road racer Alexander Vinokourov hopes to be back in the peloton this summer in time to ride both the Vuelta a España and the World Championships. His further goals include winning the Tour de France, he told Kazakhstan media recently.

"There is still a force, there is a desire, there is still a dream: to win the Tour de France and, most importantly, to restore my good name and prove that one and a half years ago I did not use any banned substance. I wan to prove that I can win without doping," Vinokourov told sports.kz,

Vinokourov, 35, is serving a ban for blood doping during the 2007 Tour de France. The Kazakhstan federation suspended him for one year, which the International Cycling Union (UCI) increased to two years. The suspension expires on July 23, 2009.

The UCI may prevent Vinokourov from racing until he pays a fine equivalent to one-year's salary, according to rules established in June 2007. "I'm not going to pay any fines, simply because until now none of the other riders who have returned to riding after their suspensions have paid."

The Kazakh would like to ride for the team he helped start, team Kazakhstan-based Astana. He noted that his former team may "soon cease to exist" because of its "serious debts. The team will soon be sold to foreign investors. But I hope, all the same, that a solution will be found."

The difficulty, he admitted, is that the Tour de France doesn't want him. The race organisers "dictate their terms" and "for no apparent reason may prohibit me from participating. So it is better not to make plans for the Tour."

His short-term goals include riding and aiming for a stage win at this year's Vuelta a España, August 29 to September 20, and a gold medal at the World Championships, September 26.

Vinokourov is slowly working at building towards those goals, but explained that it is too early for intensive work. He plans to train on the Spanish island of Tenerife in the coming months.

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