LE LIORAN, France, July 11, 2011 (AFP) – Kazakhstan cyclist Alexandre Vinokourov came through a “successful” operation according to his Astana team Monday after the Tour de France star’s heavy crash on the race’s ninth stage.
Vinokourov, who finished third on the race in 2003, ended what was to be his eighth and final Tour by being catapulted into the trees on the descent of the Col du Pas de Peyrol.
Vinokourov, one of the most respected and feared riders in the professional peloton, suffered a fracture at the top of his thigh bone. He was one of several riders to abandon on the crash-marred stage.
The 37-year-old was flown to Paris immediately where he underwent surgery through the night at the Pitie-Salpetriere hospital.
Hours after his crash the former Asian cycling champion made no announcement about future plans, but admitted he never imagined his race would finish in such terrible fashion.
“I never thought the Tour de France would all end so dramatically,” Vinokourov said according to his Astana team.
“It’s a huge disappointment for me. I feel so down tonight, but I’m trying to reassure myself by saying that I could have come off worse.”
Vinokourov has twice won the Liege-Bastogne-Liege one-day classic and has four Tour de France stage wins.
Popularly known as ‘Vino’, his last attack on the race came Saturday when he went off alone in pursuit of a five-man breakaway that had him in the virtual lead of the race before he was caught inside the final two kilometers.
As well as his exploits, Vinokourov is known for his darker side.
In 2007 he was thrown off the race, after the 15th stage and during the second rest day, when it was announced he had tested positive for blood doping, leading to a two-year ban from the sport.