Team Type 1 is flying high following the dramatic overall victory at the Tour of Turkey in what’s the team’s first win of the season and the most important success in the squad’s history.
Alexander Efimkin won the Turkey title after riding into back-to-back breakaways in the race’s most important stages. He finished second out of the first breakaway. The next day he attacked into the race leader’s jersey with the help of two teammates and the collaborative interests of other teams also looking to reach the podium in the increasingly important Turkey race.
The win bolsters the confidence for Team Type 1 – sanofin-aventis going into the Tour of California. With Efimkin, they have a legitimate podium contender. It will also bring a competitive squad loaded with stage hunters for the sprints and time trials.
VeloNews caught up with Efimkin via phone late last week to talk Turkey, California and his twin brother Vladimir, who retired last year and is now living near Sacramento. Here are the excerpts from the interview:
Q. Alexander, what significance does the first victory of the season hold for the team?
A. It was a big victory for the team. We really made a great race. Everyone worked together and we came to Turkey motivated and determined to do something big. It’s always nice to win. We knew we were capable of winning, but winning is never easy. We had good luck and the team was very united. Everyone was working together for the victory. We started the race with big ambitions so I think the overall victory is the best result we could have imagined.
Q. The race was won in the breakaways, was it a surprise for you that you had a second chance to attack?
A. It was important to be in the breakaways. I was able to escape in stage 5 and I thought that I would be able to win the stage. Unfortunately, I did not win the stage and it appeared that I had missed the chance to win for the first time for the team. It was very close.
The next day, we could see the race leaders were struggling on the climbs. The team really rode perfect tactics. We put three riders into the breakaway and I was able to claim the leader’s jersey. We had very strong riders from the time trials in the break (Bodrogi and Bertagliati) and they rode hard. Then we could control the race to the end. To win for the team was an immense satisfaction.
Q. The team suffered a huge blow when all the team’s bikes, wheels, tools and other equipment were stolen in March, what does it mean to come back and win such an important race so quickly?
A. It says a lot about this team that we could come back so quickly after that (the robbery). It’s one thing to lose one bike, but when you lose everything, it was a big setback. Everyone came together to reform the equipment of the team very fast. We didn’t miss any racing and now we have a big victory for the team. The team is moving in the right direction. We have good riders and next year the team will continue to grow. They have big ambitions for the next few years. The team is growing up together. It’s exciting to be on this team. It has a very unique message, that diabetes should not stop people from living.
Q. How will the victory in Turkey help the team in its next races?
A. We have big confidence for the Tour of California. Winning in Turkey will give us even more motivation. We knew we could win big races. We have been close so many times this season. When you do win, then everyone knows it’s possible. The victory was very important going into California. We know we can do something big in California.
Q. What are the team’s expectations for California?
A. California is our next big goal. We can go there to do important things. We want to win a stage, we want to be high on the GC. This team is at a good level. Everyone has been racing all season to be ready for our big goal. Turkey was a big goal for us, next is California, then the Tour de Suisse. The team has a very good calendar. They are all quality races. We had hoped for the Giro, but that’s OK. Next year the team will be even stronger and we are already proving ourselves as a legitimate force in the peloton. We can expect a grand tour next season.
Q. We hear that your brother Vladimir is living in California, he’s no longer racing? What is he doing there? (note – Alexander and Vladimir raced together on Ag2r last year)
A. Yes, I will be visiting my brother (Vladimir). He now lives near Sacramento. I will go two days before the race to visit him. Every night during the Tour of Turkey I got a message or had a phone call with my brother, and he was so excited for me, maybe even more than I was for myself. I’ll fly to Orangeville to stay with him for a few days ahead of the race, to get a head start on the jetlag, and because for me California is like home.
Team Type 1-Sanofi Aventis for the Tour of California: Rubens Bertogliati (Swi), Laszlo Bodrogi (Fra), Daniele Callegarin (Ita), Alexander Efimkin (Rus), Aldo Ino Ilesic (Slo), Valeriy Kobzarenko (Ukr), Jure Kocjan, Javier Megias Leal (Spa)