Alexander Vinokourov says riders used the crash on stage two as an opportunity to eliminate Vincenzo Nibali, but apologises for his rider's actions

Astana manager Alexander Vinokourov has apologised for the rule breaking that led to his rider Vincenzo Nibali being ejected from the Vuelta a España.

Nibali held on to a team car after being held up by a crash on stage two and sped back towards the front group, resulting in the race jury sending him home along with the directeur sportif driving the car, Alexandre Shefer.

Vinokourov told L’Equipe that he thought the disqualification was ‘very strict’ but nevertheless the Kazakh, winner of the Vuelta in 2006, apologised to the organisers and the fans.

“We must recognize that we have broken the rules,” Vinokourov told the French paper. “That’s why I make my apologies to the organisers, the audience, the fans and the sponsors of this event.

“I think the disqualification is very strict, but I can not deny that he has broken the rules and therefore we must accept this decision.”

With Nibali struggling to catch up with the driving front group, the Italian simply held onto the door of his car and sped off up the road, leaving the other riders in the chase group slightly bewildered.

The following day, Cofidis sprinter Nacer Bouhanni was fined just CHF100 for holding on for 12 seconds in a ‘sticky bottle’ incident involving his team car.

Vinokourov said that Nibali was the only one chasing in his group and was obliged to go alone, or – as it turned out – with a little assistance.

“After the big crash that the majority of the peloton was involved in, everyone was nervous, including Vincenzo Nibali, because the teams of the favorites drove at full speed. Vincenzo was obliged to go chasing on his own. “

“Some teams have used the opportunity to eliminate the group. It has been found that fair play in cycling is a thing of the past.”

  • John Senior

    Irony just doesn’t exist for some people! Do me a favour – unapologetic cheating Team Principal with drug tainted Team talks about ‘Fair Play’ – Please!!! The sooner Nibali leaves a team he should never have joined the better – ‘Ride for Astana and watch your reputation collapse.’ I hope Sky have done their homework on Landa if the rumours of him joining are true.

  • David Bassett

    That is so true. Just listen to the cheats from before Armstrong’s time making out that he invented taking drugs.

  • dourscot

    It’s always the cheats who moan most loudly about cheating.

  • David Chadderton

    The helicopter video showed his team car overtaking the delayed group, moving alongside, probably giving instructions, then whizzing the rider fast up the road to catch up the peletons. No excuses. Clear breach of Regulation 12.18 with DQ for both.

  • David Chadderton

    Exactly. Fair play disappeared many years ago didn’t it?

  • Jay Kay

    Ironic headline is used, ironically by a man so full of irony

  • FPCyclist

    This is one of the most deliciously ironic headlines ever written. Well done, Vino!

  • FPCyclist

    Right on, Mike! Team Astana stinks from the head down. Give their licence to another team that deserves it. Astana = Postal 2.0? I wonder.

  • TrevorHoldsworth

    And don’t ask him how much it costs to buy a classic. Or if he finally paid up…
    Or recent doping scandals.

  • RobTM

    They were riding fast for position into the finishing climb from a long way out was more rolling & flat terrain.

    It was the last jump to team car train, where the chase stopped making headway, when noone was sent back. Nibs initial problem was he needed an unbroken bike to get going, team car was stuck behind pile -up and no intact team mate had stopped so he had more of a wait than others. He was visibly angry, they DID later have riders in peleton who COULD have gone back but Aru & Landa seem to be protected to, so advanced tricks with sticky team car backing up other cars and then accelerating was put into service instead.

  • Steve Badger

    Karma at work!

  • Steven Nicholson

    as soon as i saw the headline i instantly thought back to only a month or so ago when during the Tour Froome had to stop briefly for a mechanical issue and Nibali used the opportunity to attack.

    Vinokourov is the last person who should be talking about fair play with his own history and that of his team whom he has been involved with since their creation.

  • Steve Badger

    How much fair play was shown to the Froomedog when he had a mechanical in the TDF and Nibbelly took off,….

  • Texas Roadhouse

    Karma’s a bitch!

  • Steve Badger

    Did not show much a lot of fair play when Froome had a mechanical in the TDF,….

  • J1

    Ehh…

    1. You were a doper.
    2. *cough* Nibali’s attack on Froome on the Croix de Fer *cough*.

  • Paul Jakma

    They had. He had at least 2 or 3 domestiques to pace him back. I think this might have been after the climbs towards the end where Nibali had already dropped his domestiques, who had paced him quite a way.

  • TrevorHoldsworth

    There’s the pot calling the kettle black!

  • Tony

    Vino’s quote of “fair play” must be one of the best ever in bike racing!!!

  • RobTM

    The support had to be won in race, by doing better than Aru & Landa, who missed the crash. If he’d got into a leading position, support would have followed, but his position was shaky due to TdF disappointment

  • Tim Stones

    In other news, Kazakhstan has been declared hipocrisy-free.

  • RobTM

    Vino… you have a team in the race, your leader is dropped but fit.. you send domestiques back. This is what you pay them for, yes your rider may lose minutes unluckily through no fault of his own but that’s bunch racing.
    The peleton was controlling a break with just 30km to go, they allowed a large group back on, the time difference was steady any spurt calmed quickly. Majka was with group 2 and rejoined with 14km to go, finishing just over 20S ahead of Nibs despite the car assistance, so he ONLY lost 20-30S, on the main contenders.
    Astana team management obliged Nibs to chase on own, due possibly as Nibs has tended to ignore help previously, dropping riders sent back to help him.
    Comments on fair play and full speed, had no place with a proper apology. Your boy is meant to pedal, not use car boosts to get out of a jam.

  • EB

    If he is saying Nibali was left to chase the lead group alone then the obvious reply to a team manager is ‘why was the rest of the team not there to help him?’. There are some odd team dynamics in Astana and I don’t think Nibali had the full support of his teammates. Without their support I doubt he had any chance of winning anyway.

  • RobTM

    You don’t often see Vino & words fair play in same sentence!

  • markholds

    I think this headline must be quote of the season. Hilarious!

  • Mike Prytherch

    Vinokourov is as bad for the sport as Armstrong, I wish him and his team gone