My name is Elin - A pro cycling lover's reflections

Vino wants to wear yellow jersey before retiring

Category: Cycling

Alexander Vinokourov is getting older, but he doesn't want to retire before wearing the yellow jersey at the Tour de France.

He has already lead the Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a Espana, but has never done the same in the Tour de France.

"I had a pink jersey and a golden one already in my career, so I still want a yellow one," Vinokourov said at Astana team's presentation in Monaco earlier this week.

He also said that the 2011 season might be his very last as a pro rider.

This year, he won't race the Giro d'Italia, but will concentrate on doing well in the Tour de France.

"This year, it will be even more special as there is no prologue. But there will be some small hills... We are already training for the team time trial. It will be hard to win looking at the competition, but I think a top five result is feasible. From there, we'll see. After the Tour and depending on the outcome, I will decide whether I continue my career or not."

The Kazakh will also target the Paris-Nice and the Ardennes Classics this year. The rider loves to attack and surely tougher races suit him. He knows how to suffer when he smells victory.

But he is no youngster anymore. And spending more time with the family starts to seem like a very good idea. So sadly this could be his last year.

"I don't want to commit to anything now," he said, according to Cyclingnews. "I still have results, I'm still very motivated. I could probably still race another three or four years just for the money, but that's not what I'm about. I want to win races. And I can't see myself still on the road at 40."

Devolder wants to make something of the opening classic

Category: Cycling

Stijn Devolder (Vacansoleil-DCM) dreams of victory in the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad this year.

The two-time Tour of Flanders winner recently checked out the parcours of Omloop Het Nieuwsblad with teammate Gorik Gardeyn and sports director Hilaire Van der Scheuren.

This year, former cyclist Peter Van Petegem has redesign the course, and Devolder says he expects it to be tougher this year.

"This course is not comparable with last year's edition. Route designer Peter Van Petegem has made good use of his experience. The course has become much more selective," Devolder told Het Nieuwsblad. "The hills are divided neatly and there will be ongoing opportunities for action."

Devolder has never won the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad before, but hopes to win it this year. Earlier, he has focused on the Tour of Flanders. But this year, it seems he is more interested in winning the Omloop race.

"In the past the race would begin on the wall [the Molenberg] then everything collapsed like a pudding. Then it was a wait until the strongest guys stuck their heads out in the cobbled areas deep in the finale," he said. "Now I expect that the race will really explode the third and last time through the [new] cobblestone sector at Haaghoek. Then you'll immediately hit the Leberg, Molenberg and then again the cobblestones of the Lipenhovestraat.

"The finale is the same. A lot will depend on the wind. Headwind or tailwind makes a big difference. However, it is always a case of attrition. The new route is essentially a 200km Tour of Flanders."

Devolder races the Grand Prix d'Ouverture La Marseillaise today, but will soon travel to Spain.

"In February I'm only one day in the country [Belgium]. I ride the Marseillaise and then the following Sunday Etoile de Bessèges. Then I pull over to Spain for the Ruta del Sol to ride the ultimate run-up to Omloop. I’m look forward to it, I had a good winter. I would like to finally make something of the opening classic. "

Kreuziger wants to become real Grand Tour contender in 2011

Category: Cycling

Roman Kreuziger has joined Astana Team this season and he looks forward to race for the overall victory at the Giro d'Italia this year.

In the last two years, the Czech rider has finished in the top ten of the Tour de France. He has also won the Tour de Suisse and the Tour de Romandie.

His new goal is to win a real Grand Tour, and why not Giro d'Italia?

"I've come to a stage in my career where I feel I can take up responsibility. I will go to the Giro to win it," said Kreuziger at the team presentation in Monaco on Friday.

He has never raced the Giro d'Italia before, but he has been a professional with the Italian team Liquigas for five years and he lives in Italy, as well.

"It might be new to me, but I'm not scared," he commented. "I know the Italian mountains. I'm confident we can do very well, and I'm very motivated. I think for the first time trial we will be good, but once we get to the mountains we will be with the best," he added.

Changing team to Astana Team wasn't really a big thing for the rider. He left Liquigas, where he has already raced in the company of Ivan Basso and Vincenzo Nibali, to move forward.

This year, he will get the chance to race to win a Grand Tour. He has never fully had that role before.

"I looked at all the positives and negatives, and after five years in the same team I preferred to change, because I was missing a driving force. I needed new input to motivate myself again. With the experience of Vinokourov and Martinelli, I'm sure I can still grow a lot. From that point of view, Astana was the best option.

"There are a lot of people with a lot of experience in this team. Martinelli, and the sports directors, have achieved a lot in the past. I think they will be able to help me win a Grand Tour."

He learned a lot while racing for Liquigas, but there is things he can chance. Like the fact that many consider him as a passive rider.

"I was often told that I wait too much for the others to move in races, and Vino will teach me how to attack at the best moment, to become an actor in the races."

So far, he doesn't know if he will race the Tour de France or Vuelta a Espana later this season. It depends on the Giro and how he feels after the race. The Giro d'Italia will be very tough this season and Kreuziger himself says that it will probably be best to wait a little bit, but we will see. I am looking forward to see him as a Grand Tour contender, that's for sure.