The defending champion in this week’s Tour of Turkey, Aleksandr Efimkin, is a twin. He won the title last year, arguably his career best-result, after joining US ProContinental Team Type 1, having previously ridden for AG2R La Mondiale, Quick Step and Barloworld.
Vladimir and Aleksandr Alexandrovich Efimkin were born 15 minutes apart in Kuybyshev (now Samara), Russia in December 1981. Like most youngsters, they tried a variety of sports before Aleksandr settled on cycling. Vladimir soon followed suit. Early success in winning races saw them move to a sports-specific school to continue their development.
The twins turned professional, Vladimir in 2005, Aleksandr the year after. In 2007, Vladimir won a stage and finished sixth overall at the Vuelta a Espana and was also sixth at the Tour de Suisse. He won a stage and placed tenth overall in the 2008 Tour de France.
The Efimkin brothers are close and have been teammates at Barloworld, AG2R and, more recently Team Type 1. Aleksandr lives in Villongo, Italy while Vladimir moved from Italy to Roseville largely because his wife had many friends and family members in the Sacramento area.
But travelling to and from Europe to race, Vladimir – who won stage nine of the 2008 Tour de France after the disqualification of Riccardo Ricco – quit cycling in the middle of the 2010 season to work in real estate and make his family, rather than cycling, his priority. So while Vladimir moved overseas, Aleksandr remained based in Europe but joined an American team, newly promoted into the ProContinental ranks.
Following his win last year in Turkey, Aleksandr rode in the Tour of California which gave him an opportunity to catch up with his twin. Watching his twin race reinfected Vladimir with the cycling bug and he made his comeback midway through last season, also with Team Type 1. When the news was announced he said:
Everything in my life is great now. My family is settled in California, we’re building a comfortable new home, I have healthy children, and life since I left cycling has been fantastic. But when the Tour of California came literally in front of my house on the stage from Auburn to Modesto, I looked at my brother and the rest of the guys on their bikes and I thought “This is it. These are superheroes. This is what I miss.”
Here’s an interview with the twins last year, just after Vladimir had resumed his cycling career:
Team Type 1’s general manager is Vasili Davidenko, a former Russian professional cyclist and 15-time national time-trialist, who welcomed Vladimir’s addition to the squad saying:
He brings huge experience to our team. He has been on the podium at the Tour de France, the Tour of Spain and the Tour de Suisse, and he won the Volta a Portugal in 2005. He is a climbing specialist who will provide powerful quality in stage races.
But, despite finishing ninth overall in last year’s Tour of China, Vladimir is no longer on the team, choosing to return to his new life – with a better work-life balance – to develop his business interests, including the Sacramento-based website www.sportsdestiny.com. Meanwhile, twin brother Aleksandr is attempting this week to retain his Turkish crown.