Controversial rider calls it a day
Last Updated: August 15, 2012 6:55pm
Vinokourov: End of the road
Olympic road race champion Alexandre Vinokourov has announced his retirement from cycling with immediate effect.
The Kazakh initially said he would quit the sport at the end of the season, but he confirmed after the Clasica San Sebastián that it was his last competitive race.
"I am very happy because I rode my last race in San Sebastián and Spain. I tried to do it well and be competitive," he told Spanish website Biciciclismo. "I wanted to [perform], and my team as well. However, my legs were not like those of the Olympic Games."
He added: "I am aware that I am going to leave cycling. It hasn't sunk in yet. It is difficult for me. But being 39 years old in September, I knew that I had to stop. At least I've been able to go leave by the front door and am satisfied with it.
"After tomorrow I return to my country and the president greets all the [Olympic] medallists. Also, I will be meeting with the [cycling] federation to speak about my future and talk about ideas. I'll have a special place in the team, so we will see."
Vinokourov has had a colourful career, winning the Vuelta a España in 2006 and claiming four Tour de France stage victories while his lowpoint was no doubt the 2007 Tour when he was found guilty of blood doping and hit with a two-year ban.
He returned after his suspension and announced that he would quit after the 2011 season, but a crash during last year's Tour saw him sustain a broken femur and he decided to continue for one more year.
"In January I still had problems on one leg and did not want to leave cycling like that," he added while admitting that his win at the London Games took him by surprise.
"I did not expect my victory in London. It was the maximum that could wish for and it was very important for my country.
"I want to thank my family and friends for their support after the fall. All this sacrifice wasn't for nothing, I wanted to stop with a victory in the Tour. That could not be, and finally that happened at the Games."