Vino’ says he will be on Astana … or heads will roll – VeloNews

Alexander Vinokourov said Wednesday he intends to ride for Astana later this year or there will be serious consequences for those who keep him from riding on the Kazakh-financed team.

In a press conference held in Monaco in advance of Saturday’s Tour de France start, Vinokourov, whose suspension for homologous blood doping ends on July 24, said there’s no possibility that he would ride for any team other than the one he helped establish in 2006.

Vinokourov assembled a coalition of Kazakh sponsors to take over the ProTour license of his old Liberty-Seguros squad after that team folded on the heels of the then-breaking Operación Puerto scandal.

“I will resume my career as a professional on July 24,” he said. “I cannot imagine being on a team other than Astana. The Kazakhstan cycling federation wants me on team, I am currently negotiating with Johan Bruyneel and I think we will reach agreement in the next week.”

Later in the article:

Vinokourov suggested on Wednesday that Bruyneel has little choice but to respect the wishes of his Kazakh sponsors.

“This team was created for me and thanks to my efforts,” Vinokourov said. “I have served my suspension and I do not see why I could not return. If Bruyneel does not want me, it will be Bruyneel who is leaving the team.”

Part of me is looking forward to seeing Vino come back, because his attacking style of racing is a flat-out joy to watch.

Part of me is thinking, “man, this guy’s got a lot of nerve thinking he’s gonna come back to a ProTour team and possibly have the director fired when he’s been banned for two years from racing … and whatever happened to the additional two-year ban from the ProTour?”

I’m looking forward to the cyclo-politics at the end of the month … there’s gonna be fireworks!