Banned cyclist intends to ride for Astana

Updated: July 2, 2009, 12:41 PM ET
Reuters

MONACO -- Alexander Vinokourov will return to cycling when his two-year doping suspension ends later this month, and he said on Thursday that he hopes to ride with his former Astana team.

"I want to announce that I will return to competitive cycling on July 24," Vinokourov said during a news conference in Monaco, where the Tour de France starts on Saturday.

"I do not see myself anywhere else than Astana. This team was created in 2006 with the Kazakh cycling federation; it is our baby," he said.

He said negotiations were underway with the Kazakh cycling federation and team manager Johan Bruyneel.

"This team has been created for me, I do not see how an agreement could not be reached," Vinokourov said. "If there is no deal, Johan will have to leave the team."

Vinokourov was banned for two years after testing positive for blood doping in the 2007 Tour de France. The 35-year-old has denied any wrongdoing.

He said he would probably take part in the Tour of Spain, which starts Aug. 29, and in the world championships in Mendrisio, Switzerland, which is in September.

Vinokourov, who could join Spain's Alberto Contador and seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong at Astana, also is hoping to ride the Tour in the future.

"I am back for one or two years and I would like to do one more Tour de France and wear the yellow jersey, although I am realistic, I know I cannot win it," he said.

"I am doing this for my family, for the people of Kazakhstan and to regain the image I had before my ban."

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