The best know Kazakistan other than Borat is ready for the challenge of the 2006 Tour de France. Seems like ages since Vinokourov announced that he signed for Liberty Seguros. By now it seems like forgettable news since Liberty won the Vuelta with Heras only to lose it on the revelation of a positive EPO test.
To get to know the team better, Vino has been hanging out with Joseba Beloki one of the most experienced Liberty Seguros members. Beloki is ready to help his new friend from the east get acclimated to the team.
Vino received many offers during the Tour de France, especially from some French teams. The top offers came from AG2R and Credit Agriciole, but Vino was drawn to Manolo Saiz’s Grand Tour experience. “Manolo’s experience and the numerous top climbers on the Liberty squad is what drew me to the Spanish team” says the Kazak.
My main goal is to win the Tour de France. At T-Mobile everything pointed only to Ullrich, so it was difficult to get the same support from the team for my own ambition.
For 2006 Vino aims to start his season in Murcia, then Milan-San Remo and Settimana Catalana. He does not plan to ridde any other Classics in the Spring. Later on, he will ride either the Tour of Switzerland or the Dauphine Libere to fine tune his form for the Tour. So who does Vino list as the favorites for the Tour?
Basso and Ullrich are the favorites, but you must keep an eye on Paopovych and Cunego. Without Armstrong in the race everything changes. I prefer to stay in the second tier of favorites sort of incongnito
The Spanish team lead by Mr. “Vega Vega” hime self Manolo Saiz has some hope since they have “on paper” one of the top contenders for the Tour de Frace in 2006.