ASTANA – London Olympics 2012 gold medalist and Astana Pro Cycling Team manager Alexander Vinokourov during a Jan. 14 press conference set out an ambitious goal for the team for 2014—to win Tour de France.
“Last year we worked as a team to win Giro d’Italia and it was quite difficult,” Vinokourov commented. “But our efforts, motivation and drive led us to a victory in Brescia. It is an honour to be standing here today to say that we are ready to accept the challenge for Tour de France 2014.”
2013 Giro d’Italia winner and top Astana Pro team rider Vincenzo Nibali also noted that July’s Tour de France will be the team’s top priority.
Nibali’s efforts will also be aided over the summer by the team’s recent signings of mountain climbing pro Michele Scarponi and Mikele Landa, a young talent acquired from the Euskaltel team.
“In Euskaltel, the team was very united, more than a team, but a family. In Astana, it is different. There are so many different languages, new people, different cultures. … I hope to get used to it quickly,” he said in November 2013.
“I accept the challenge respectfully. I need to move step by step but I know that I can achieve a lot here [with the team]. People trust me, that gives me peace of mind, so I want to achieve big results here.”
The July 5-27 Tour de France 2014 will include 21 stages running through France and neighbouring countries and will cover 3,656 kilometres. The Tour de France, along with Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a Espana, is considered one of the top three races in the cycling world. However, since it is the oldest and has run annually since 1903, except during two world wars, it is considered by most to be the most prestigious.