«The Guardian» said: Give Olympic champion Alexandr Vinokourov a break

    • Filled in News in English 31 Июль 2012 в 2:39, author: Скорпс
    • Views: 18 024.
    • Tom Copeland, part of the Olympics experts' network
    • guardian.co.uk, Monday 30 July 2012 18.33 BST

    Kazakhstan rider should be remembered as an exciting cyclist, who rode a good race at London 2012, and not a drugs cheat Alexandr Vinokourov, right, outsprints Rigoberto Urán to win gold in the road race at the London 2012 Games. Photograph: Manan Vatsyayana/AFP/Getty Images

    Saturday's men's cycling road race was one that Britain's Mark Cavendish was tipped to win. The whole country certainly thought he should have done so, but instead it was won by Alexandr Vinokourov, a man the Daily Mail dubbed the "nobody from Kazakhstan".

    But Vinokourov is no nobody. He took the win with an imperious sprint away from his remaining breakaway companion in the final few hundred metres. He had managed the perfect race up until that point and finished it off in the same fashion, leaving nothing to chance.

    However, afterwards many reacted to his victory with disgust and anger.

    The hate towards 'Vino', as he's better known in cycling, stems from back in 2007 when he tested positive at the Tour de France for having had blood transfusions. This inevitably meant his exit from the race and a two-year ban. It also left a sour taste on the race as any positive drugs test does, and a black mark against his name from that point on.

    Following his ban, he returned to the sport and by 2011 was back racing the Tour de France. Come stage nine, though, and Vinokourov was once again out of the race – this time following a heavy fall which saw him break his femur. Since then he has fought back to fitness and in this year's Tour he managed to get through to the end in Paris, finishing 31st - over 1h 15min behind Bradley Wiggins of Team Sky.

    However, within the race there were opportunities to get sight of what Vinokourov does best: attack.

    On stage 16 he finished fourth on the finish up to Bagnères-de-Luchon with a display typical of the Kazakh. One of the early attackers of the day, Vinokourov set about to drive the pace and keep pushing until the end, a typical do-or-die move by the Astana rider. He followed this on stage 17 with an identical display of aggressive prowess and took the honours for the most aggressive rider on the stage but missed out on a win. This frustration would have built up over his three weeks in Franceand left him feeling empty handed after the final stage on the Champs Elysées.

    He more than made up for that on the Mall in London.

    People are free to voice their opinion and say what they think but the man from Kazakhstan has not failed a drugs test for five years and should be congratulated for a superb ride. The win wasn't one that would hint at doping – he rode using his head and didn't show a dominant display seen by the likes of Riccardo Riccò, now banned from professional cycling for life, who would romp up a mountain mouth closed and put minutes into his nearest competitors.

    Vinokourov has already stated that he is retiring after the Olympic Games, something he did last year before opting to come back to race the Tour and in London. He should be given a little more respect for his ride and the way he outsmarted his opponents when it mattered. Whatever the bloggers and social media fiends say from behind their computer screens, it was a cracking ride and a clean one. Let's hope he's remembered as an Olympic champion and a bike rider who's thrilling to watch, not a drugs cheat.

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