KUANTAN, Malaysia (VN) – A brooding figure if ever there was one, Alexander Vinokourov’s laconic, petulant nature pairs seamlessly with his qualities as a bike rider.
Shedding tears as if someone had died in his family, he announced his retirement at last year’s Tour de France, having crashed into a tree on the descent of the Puy Mary on Stage 9. But no more than a few months later ‘Vino’ decided to come back, his Astana team dependent on his invaluable rider points that count towards a ProTeam’s license application or renewal so they can be part of the WorldTour.
Make no mistake: this was probably one of the five most exasperating (or should that be excruciating?) interviews this journalist has done. Nevertheless, there’s something about Vinokourov that not only polarizes opinion but sees cycling fans clamoring to watch him race.
Realizing life in advertising was nothing like Mad Men and buoyed by the Olympic Games in his Australian hometown of Sydney, Anthony Tan turned his back on a lucrative copywriting career in 2000 in pursuit of something more cerebral. Combining wordsmithing with his experiences as an A-Grade club racer and an underwhelming season competing in Europe, a career as a cycling scribe beckoned… More than a dozen Grand Tours and countless Classics later, it’s where he still is today. He has been a contributor to VeloNews since 2006. In 2010, he won Cycling Australia’s media award for best story. Follow him on Twitter: @anthony_tan