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 48th International Presidential Cycling Tour of Turkey (Turkish: Cumhurbaşkanlığı Bisiklet Turu) is an eight-day stage race which runs from Sunday 22nd until Sunday 29th April. It started in earnest in 2002 and initially attracted little attention either from Europe’s major cycling teams or its best riders. However, the Tour’s recent elevation in ranking has attracted an increasingly competitive field. It 2006 it was ranked a 2.2 event, before being upgraded to 2.1 in 2008, and then again to 2.HC for the 2010 edition. This year sees 25 teams take to the start, including nine ProTeams, 14 ProContinental and two local Continental teams.
Cycling in Turkey has made much progress in recent years where it’s a rapidly growing sport, probably in no small part due to the Tour. In the last four years, the Turkish cycling federation has created seven international lower-level, four-day races. Two continental teams have been set up, both of which will taking part in this year’s race – Salcano-Arnavutkoy and Konya-Torku Seker Spor. In addition, for the first time since Montreal 1976, Turkey will field a team of three ex-mountain bikers in the London Olympic road race.