Brajkovic and Vinokourov head Astana team

Astana has announced its nine-man roster for the Tour de France, with Alexander Vinokourov and Janez Brajkovic heading an experienced team.


Kazakh star Vinokourov, 38, reversed a decision to retire after a heavy crash at last year’s Tour, and is named the team leader; Slovenian Brajkovic, however, is the frontman for the General Classification.

"Vinokurov is our team captain, our charismatic leader," team manager Giuseppe Martinelli said. "His experience will doubtless be a huge help to everyone.

"After the accident last year, he has given 100 per cent to get himself ready for this Tour and there is every reason to believe that he might do well.

"Brajkovic will be our man for the GC but I do not want to set any specific goals for him. I know that he will give everything to get a good result, both for himself and for the team.”

In the light of last year’s career-threatening crash, 2006 Vuelta a Espana and four-times Tour de France stage winner Vinokourov has realistic aims this time out.

"After last year’s unfortunate experience, I am going to the Tour with the aim of winning a stage – hopefully in the Pyrenees – and to help Jani for the general classification, while also preparing as well as possible for the Olympics," he said.

Brajokovic, 28, won this month's Tour de Slovenie, and has won the Criterium du Dauphine and Tour de Georgia in the past. He has worked with Lance Armstrong at both Discovery and RadioShack, but crashed out of last year's Tour de France in stage five.

Croatian Robert Kiserlovski is the back-up man for the GC, with Slovenian Borut Bozic the main sprinter and Kazakh Maxim Iglinskiy a secondary stage challenger.

Kazakh Dmitry Fofonov, Swede Fredrik Kessiakoff and Ukrainian Andriy Grivko are listed as domestiques, as is Andrey Kashechkin, who like Vinokourov has previously served a suspension for doping. His specific role is to help Brajokovic in the mountains.

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