/ Cycling

Vinokourov wins Tour time trial

Updated: Saturday, 21 Jul 2007 17:34

Michael Rasmussen is still on top in France
Michael Rasmussen is still on top in France

Kazakhstan's Alexandre Vinokourov fought his way back into the Tour de France top 10 with an impressive ride to win Saturday's 13th stage, a time-trial in Albi.

On a wet day, Great Britain's Bradley Wiggins had led the way for much of the trial, but the Cofidis rider was eventually soundly beaten by Vinokourov, who clocked the best times at every intermediate checkpoint to win his first stage of the Tour with a time of 01:06:34.

It was a great day for the Astana team as Vinokourov was some one minute 14 seconds ahead of Australian Cadel Evans in second, while team-mates Andreas Kloden and Andrey Kashechkin - another Kazakhstani - came third and fourth, the latter beating fifth-placed Wiggins by 30 seconds.

Tour leader Michael Rasmussen rode hard to keep the yellow jersey and finished 11th, but had to draw on all his energy reserves and saw his advantage in the overall standings cut to one minute by Evans.

The heavy rainfall saw many riders, including Kloden and Tour favourite Fabian Cancellara, slip and crash, but Vinokourov rode well through wet and dry conditions

The 33-year-old told Eurosport: 'I wanted to prove to myself and to everyone else that my days aren't over yet on this year's Tour. I wanted to give my all for Kazakhstan and for the spectators as they gave me a lot of encouragement at the side of the road.'

He was full of confidence after moving up to ninth overall and closing his own gap on Rasmussen to just over five minutes, and added: 'We have two days in the Pyrenees and I can still close the gap.'

'They were a bit quick in saying I couldn't win this Tour.'

With the riders racing in reverse order based on their overall rankings after stage 12, Olympic pursuit champion Wiggins was the 18th rider to race, meaning he had to wait over three hours to find out if he had won, and for a long time he looked like he might hold onto his lead.

He said: 'I had a really good ride today. I said that many riders would be taking it easy, but I though 'what the heck' and I went for it.

'I went out there and I felt unbelieveable - I couldn't feel my legs and I was suffering.'

After a difficult couple of days in which he has been dropped by the Denmark national team for failing to failing to inform the UCI of his whereabouts, Rasmussen was glad that he did not lose his yellow jersey ahead of Sunday's Pyrenees stage 14.

He said: 'This gives me a lot of confidence for tomorrow (Sunday) when we go back into my terrain. I'll have to go out and take time on my nearest competitors.'

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