x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Vinokourov forced to retire after crashing out of Tour de France

Alexandre Vinokourov announces his retirement from professional cycling, a week after crashing out of the Tour de France with a thigh fracture.

Alexandre Vinokourov announced his retirement from professional cycling yesterday, a week after crashing out of the Tour de France with a thigh fracture.

"I will continue to ride my bike, but as an amateur and just to keep fit," the Kazakh rider said on French television when asked if he would continue to compete once he has recovered from his injury.

"As far as competing goes, I think I will leave it there."

Vinokourov had come into the 2011 Tour de France pledging it would be his last but with the hope of pulling on the coveted yellow jersey for the first time in his career.

That dream came to an abrupt end on the descent of the Col du Pas de Peyrol, the summit of which was at the 99.5-kilometre mark of the 208km ninth stage in the hilly Massif Central.

He crashed heavily at speed and ended up in the trees at the side of the road. Unable to walk, he had to be helped to the roadside to await an ambulance.

Scans at a nearby hospital in Aurillac diagnosed a "fracture at the top of the femur on his right leg". He underwent surgery at Parisian hospital la Pitie-Salpetriere the following morning. Vinokourov, who began his career in 1998, twice won the Liege-Bastogne-Liege one-day classic, has four Tour de France stage wins and finished on the podium in 2003 when he was third with Team Telekom.

Vinokourov also courted controversy in a 13-year career. He was thrown off the Tour de France, after the 15th stage and during the second rest day, in 2007 when it was announced he had tested positive for blood doping. He was sacked by his Astana team and served a two-year ban.

When he returned in 2009, it was ironically as the team leader of Astana which, in the meantime, had undergone a management overhaul.

Vinokourov is expected to remain in the sport and has in the past indicated he would like to become the manager or sporting director of Astana.