Jorge Sandoval’s bid to have a team of UCI Professional Continental status in January’s men’s road cycling Tour of Manawatu has borne fruit.
“I’ve been lucky enough to secure my first Pro Continental team, Team Type 1-Sanofi,” the race director said yesterday. “It’s the first overseas team confirmed for the tour, and the first continental team to come to New Zealand.
“It’s pretty exciting for me with this being the 25th year of organising and promoting men’s tours in Wellington, the Wairarapa and Manawatu.”
Team Type 1’s 2011 roster is rich in accomplished riders, including Russian Vladimir Efimkin, a stage winner in the Tour de France of 2008, who led the Tour of Spain for four days in 2007. The team may also be unique in professional sport in that six of its 21 riders have Type 1 diabetes, including co-founder Joe Eldridge. Another is Australian Fabio Calabria, who was the first rider home in the under-19 race at the New Zealand road championships of 2005.
It was established by founder Phil Southerland and Eldridge in 2005 after they had first met at a university cycle race in the United States two years earlier, and discovered they had diabetis. Team Type 1 started as a grassroots initiative to motivate people to take control of their diabetes using cycling as a platform. It has swiftly grown into a global sports organisation changing the lives of people with diabetes around the world through racing, groundbreaking research, and philanthropic initiatives in developing countries. The visit by Team Type 1 is supported by Sanofi New Zealand.
There is also a women’s group of 19 riders, nine of whom have diabetes. The team is based in Atlanta and La Spezia, Italy, and the men’s squad will be in camp in Italy for two weeks before those named to compete in New Zealand depart for Palmerston North.
Efimkin, who has also been on the podium for the Tour de Suisse, and won the Volta a Portugal in 2005, has a twin-brother in the team, Alexander Efimkin. The latter had three top 10 finishes in last year’s Giro d’Italia and finished 19th on general classification, and has also been in the top 10 in the Paris-Nice. They are formidable climbers.
Other outstanding team riders include Laszio Bodrogi, a Hungarian who now has French citizenship, and Swiss Rubens Bertogliati. The former has been on the world road championship podium, won stages in the Paris-Nice and is a former victor of the Tour de l’Avenir. Bertogliati led the Tour de France for the first three days in 2002 after winning the opening stage in Luxembourg.
Sandoval is hopeful of signing another Pro Continental team for the January 25-29 event, and that Bike NZ will field a national squad. His first tour of the Manawatu has come about largely thanks to the support of the Palmerston North City Council and Sport Manawatu.