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Last Updated: Sunday, 2 July 2006, 14:55 GMT 15:55 UK
Vinokourov fumes at missed chance
Alexandre Vinokourov
Vinokourov was fifth in last year's Tour
Astana-Wurth team leader Alexandre Vinokourov says he has been robbed of his last chance to compete for victory in the Tour de France.

Five of his team-mates were implicated in the Spanish doping investigation that has rocked the race, leaving the team with too few riders to take part.

"It was my last chance to win the Tour and it's been taken from me," the 32-year-old from Kazakhstan said.

Vinokourov has been a serious contender ever since he finished third in 2003.

The disappointment for Vinokourov, fifth in last year's race, was made worse after the team was cleared by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) to race on Thursday.

But he has vowed to be back for 2007 and said he will make up for his unexpected exit by leading a buy-out of the team and becoming its manager.

"It's going to become our team, a Kazakh team," he added.

Meanwhile, Jan Ullrich's team manager has refused to condemn the German after the Tour favourite was thrown out of the race.

But he has also warned that Ullrich's relationship with T-Mobile sports director Rudy Pavenage, who has also been thrown out, means that he must prove his innocence.

"It is difficult to say that Ullrich is a victim of Rudy Pavenage," he said.

"For the moment, there is no evidence to assert that Jan Ullrich went to Spain or that he stored blood there.

"But nothing in the evidence against Rudy Pavenage allows us to exclude this possibility.

"It is difficult to reach a conclusion and at the same time, Jan always said he had 100% faith in Pavenage.

"What's most disappointing in this affair is that they did not tell the truth, particularly Rudy Pavenage.

"He (Ullrich) now has to examine the possibilities he has to prove his innocence because it is unimaginable to suggest he can wear the T-Mobile jersey again without first proving it."

Astana-Wurth forced out of Tour
01 Jul 06 |  Cycling
Drug probe forces out Tour stars
30 Jun 06 |  Cycling
Defiant Basso protests innocence
01 Jul 06 |  Cycling

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