I wanted to leave through the front door. It was not possible to win in France, but it has been even better winning the Olympics.
Vinokourov was presented with a commemorative plaque by the President of the Basque Euskadi Cycling Organisation, Jaime Ugarte, who paid tribute to his often checkered career.
The 38-year-old Astana rider finished the race in 35th position at 3min 42sec behind the winner, Luis Leon Sanchez, but not before an attempt to close out his career with another victory.
Astana collectively worked to place Vinokourov in a good position to win the race but his support dropped off as the race tightened and the Kazakh was left isolated.
"I am very grateful and happy that my last race as a professional is in San Sebastian,” said Vinokourov. “It was my last race and I came to enjoy it. I tried to fight for the win for my team but my legs were in London. Nevertheless I enjoyed my last mile.”
Vinokourov rode San Sebastian with a golden bike and the Olympic rings embossed on his jersey.
"I did not expect to take the Olympic gold. It was a dream, the best finish, the most you could expect. My family, my friends and Kazakhstan are very happy and it has been very important to get an Olympic victory for my country.
"I have not yet realized that it is over. I tried to make the most of the day. Signing autographs with everyone who asked me, get my photo, to be near the public and enjoy them as they do with us. Be it will be hard to realize it's over.”
Vinokourov began his professional career in 1998 with the French Casino-AG2R squad but really made his mark with the German Team Telekom, where his aggressive style animated races and fans alike.
His rich palmares includes victories at the Criterium du Dauphine Libere (1999), a silver medal at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games, Paris-Nice (2002 and 2003), the Tour de Suisse, a finish on the podium of the 2003 Tour de France, the general classification at the 2006 Vuelta a Espana with the Spanish Liberty Seguros-Wurth team and Olympic gold in London for Kazakhstan.
An always polarising character, Vinokourov was caught blood-doping during the 2007 Tour de France and served a two year suspension which threatened to end his career.
Largely unrepentant he returned to racing in 2009 with Astana and promptly topped the podium for a stage of the Tour de l'Ain and at the Chrono des Nations.
Also known for his toughness, a crash during the 2011 Tour de France again almost ended his career, but he returned to the peloton for the final time in 2012 with the Olympic Games a major goal.
Vinokourov was not considered a favourite for London, but as always played his cards well to steal the win from his more fancied rivals.
"I was psyched that this year was my last and my goal was to win a stage in the Tour. I wanted to leave through the front door. It was not possible to win in France, but it has been even better winning the Olympics."
Vinokourov admitted he will miss professional cycling but did not want to miss the opportunity to talk about the success of Kazakh sport in London.
"For us it was very important to win seven gold medals and finish 12th on the medal table, an unprecedented success.”