Vinokourov's a favorite for road race

The winner of the Spanish Vuelta, who finished third in Thursday's time trial, is a favorite for Sunday's world road race championship title.

"The course was quite difficult and asked a lot from the riders," the 33-year-old rider from Kazakhstan said. "But I did well. I am full of confidence for the road race."

Sunday's hilly course should suit Vinokourov. It is similar to the Liege-Bastogne-Liege and Amstel Gold classics, both of which he has already won.

The championship comes at the end of a season which came apart when Vinokourov's team Astana was banned from competing in the Tour de France because of links to a doping investigation in Spain.

Vinokourov focused all his efforts on the late season, and capped it with his first victory in the three-week Vuelta in Spain.

He arrived in Salzburg on Tuesday, barely two days after standing on the winner's podium in Madrid. He decided only at the last moment to compete in the time trial as preparation for Sunday's elite race.

Vinokourov could have been excused for dropping out after a few kilometers of Thursday's 50.8 kilometer time trial. His bike chain fell off and he had to wait at least 15 seconds for the arrival of a mechanic to fix it. After 10 kilometers, he was in 13th position, trailing leader Fabian Cancellara of Switzerland by 40 seconds, reports AP.

Vinokourov battled his way to third place, behind winner Cancellara and silver medalist David Zabriskie of the United States.

"It was no big deal really, as I would have finished second or third anyway," Vinokourov said.

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