The Roar
The Roar


Groundhog Day at Astana HQ: Vinokourov to star in classic comedy remake

Since taking over management of the Astana team, Alexandre Vinokourov has overseen a Tour de France victory, and six doping cases. So... Swings and roundabouts? (Photo by David Iliff. License: CC-BY-SA 3.0)
27th November, 2014

Bill Murray was brilliant in Groundhog Day, playing the cantankerous Phil, the weatherman who woke up every day in the same day, trapped in a town he hated, a fate that drove him to several hilarious and always failed suicide attempts.

Playing Rita, the female interest, was Andie McDowell.

Phil tried literally day after day to bed her, using each identical day to find out more about her likes and dislikes so as to present himself as her perfect (fake) man to finally get her under the covers.

And now, 21st Century Flops have just issued a press release announcing that they intend to re-make the film, starring none other than our favourite Kazakhstani chap, Astana general manager Alexandre Vinokourov.

Vino was deemed to be perfect for the role after experiencing a Groundhog Day-type experience of his own, with no less than five – count ‘em, five – men who wear the Astana colours testing positive for banned substances in the last two months.

And let us not forget young Roman Kreuziger, who’s also been suspended for returning ‘unusual’ blood values while at Astana.

So let’s call yesterday’s positive for Artur Fedosseyev of Kazakhstan the sixth – not bad at all. To use a cricketing terminology, Astana have knocked that one right into the car park – the one where Brian Cookson’s car sits.

Six broken windows Brian, how are you going to respond to that I wonder?


Reports state that Vino has suspended the Continental team that the last three positives have emanated from, which is interesting considering that he and Vincenzo Nibali have gone out of their way to claim that the World Tour team has absolutely nothing to do with the Continental squad.

“People have to understand that they [the Astana Continental Team] has nothing to do with this team,” Vinokourov told Gazetta dello Sport.

“The only thing we have in common is the jersey and the name.”

And the directeur sportif and, erm, the doctors. The teams share the services of one Dmitri Sedoun, who is a directeur sportif on both teams.

Poor Vino, it’s really coming at him from all sides isn’t it. It is worth remembering that Vinokourov was dogged by rumours of doping in his career and actually suspended for blood doping in 2007, and that he has just been charged with bribery for his alleged payment of 150,000 Euro to Alexander Kolobnev in 2010 for throwing the Liege-Bastogne-Liege classic.

He made a comeback from his doping ban to become the least applauded winner of any Olympic road race ever, when he won in London in 2012.

Vinokourov should be ok though in spite of all this, proving that a Kazakhstan cat really does have 23 lives. Back home, Kairat Kelimbetov, president of the Kazakhstan Cycling Fed, has resigned and has been replaced by Darkan Mangeldiev, a close friend of Vinokourov.


So despite all travails, his path to the presidency of his homeland still looks clear, and he does have the remake of Groundhog Day to look forward to, which is some consolation.

Playing the role that Andie MacDowell filled so well, that of love interest Rita, will be cycling fans – leaving us finally in no doubt whatsoever that Vino really is trying to screw us.

Interesting video here featuring former KCF president Kelimbetov talking about Astana at the 2014 Tour de France. Iglinsky (busted) gets singled out for praise, while Vino is mentioned as “a rider who only comes about once in a hundred years”.