Alexandre Vinokourov had one last goal to achieve in the race which brought him fame, glory but also disgrace — to finally hold the Tour de France leader’s yellow jersey at least for one day.
The Kazakh’s dream ended in a roadside ditch on Sunday when he was involved in a massive pile-up in the descent of a Massif Central mountain pass in the ninth stage between Issoire and St Flour.
Unable to stand, Vinokourov was attended to by the race doctor and two team mates who lifted him off the ground and brought him into an ambulance and away from the Tour with a fractured thigh bone.
Only the previous day, on the road to the ski-resort of Super-Besse, the Astana team leader had attacked on his own to try to seize the Tour lead in what he had announced would be his last professional season.
“I worked as a team captain for Alberto Contador on the last Tour but I want to give it another try as a leader,” the Kazakh said on the Tour de Romandie in May.
“I’m not expecting to win it. But I dream of holding the yellow jersey, as I’ve never had the chance to, and to hold it for a few days. Or go for the best climber’s polka dot.”