Vinokourov forced out at Astana before Tour de France start

Alexandr Vinokourov (right) of Kazakstan dives into a corner on Box Hill on his way to winning the Men's Olympic Cyclirng Road Race in London. (Frank Gunn/CP)

BREST, France (AP) — Alexandre Vinokourov was relieved of his managerial duties as team principal of Astana-Premier Tech on Thursday just two days before the start of the Tour de France.

The team said in a statement that the former Olympic road champion will step down following a decision from the board of directors and will move to another role.

The team did not specify the reason for his removal.

Giuseppe Martinelli and Steve Bauer will take over Vinokourov’s responsibilities “for the foreseeable future,” the team said.

Vinokourov won the 2006 Spanish Vuelta and four individual stages at the Tour de France between 2003-10. He was banned for two years after testing positive for blood doping at the 2007 Tour but came back to win the men’s road race at the 2012 London Olympics. He started his managerial career after retiring that year.

The Tour de France starts Saturday from the port city of Brest in the western Brittany region.

The Astana team changed its name to Astana_Premier Tech this year as the Canadian company joined as co-sponsor.

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