Alexandre Vinokourov's career could be over after his recent crash in the Tour de France. Astana's leader fractured his pelvis and femur when he left the road in a horrific crash on stage nine.
"Three hairline fractures in his pelvis and [one in] his femur," team Astana's sports director, Lorenzo Lapage told Cycling Weekly. "If you had a crash like that as a young rider, it's one thing, but for him..."
The 37-year-old Kazakh crashed on a tight bend on the road to Saint Flour on Sunday, near the town of Rudez. He went over an arnco barrier and ended up in a ditch on the right side of the road. Also involved in the crash were David Zabriskie (Garmin-Cervélo), Jurgen Van den Broeck (OmegaPharma-Lotto) and Frederik Willems (both OmegaPharma-Lotto) - all abandoned with fractured or broken bones.
Vinokourov had surgery the night of the crash. If his recovery goes well, he will travel home to Monaco this Sunday.
This year's Tour de France was meant to be Vinokourov's last. After finishing third to Bradley Wiggins at the Critérium de Dauphiné the Kazakh was considered as a contender this year. His attack on the Col de la Croix de Saint-Robert, the climb before Super-Besse, made him the first of the GC contenders to have made a move this year.
Vinokourov finished third in the Tour in 2003, and has won four stages. Always a feature of the race he brought shame on the race in 2007 when he tested positive for a blood transfusion. His two stages from that year were stripped.
He said immediately that he would retire and only received one-year ban from the Kazakh cycling federation, who back the Astana team. This was increased to a two-year suspension when the International Cycling Union (UCI) heard that he wanted to return and took the case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
Vinokourov unsurprisingly came back with Astana - the team named after his country's capital city and the one created for him after Liberty Seguros pulled their sponsorship following Operacion Puerto.
Last year, he won the Giro del Trentino, Liège-Bastogne-Liège and a stage of the Tour de France; and this year, a stage each at the Tour of the Basque Country and the Tour of Romandy.
It was reported at the start of this year's Tour that he wanted to continue at least until the London Olympics. The team's press officer, Blandine Roquelet told Cycling Weekly, that was from an interview given in February and that Vinokourov's situation has clearly changed.
"Why return?" said Lapage. "I don't think it's his idea."
Tour de France 2011: Related links
Tour de France 2011: Cycling Weekly's coverage index
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