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Russian Vladimir Efimkin (Team Type 1/Sanofi Aventis) is within striking distance of making his mark on the tour.
New Zealand Classic gets first ProConti team
The UCI 2.2 event, the lone New Zealand race sanctioned by the sport's governing body, the Tour of Manawatu has secured the start of its first ProConti outfit, Team Type 1-Sanofi.
"It's the first overseas team confirmed for the tour, and the first continental team to come to New Zealand," explained race director, Jorge Sandoval. "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."
Former Tour de France stage winner Vladimir Efimkin will lead the team at the event, with twin brother Aleksander, Laszlo Bodrogi and Rubens Bertogliati all expected on the start line for the opening stage, a 7.1 kilometre individual time trial in Palmerston North.
Building on the success of the 2011 season, a full strength New Zealand national team is expected to be announced shortly, with Jesse Sergent who in his neo pro season won the general classification at the Tour du Poitou-Charentes and Driedaagse van West-Vlaanderen, and Sam Bewley both likely to start.
Sandoval is hopeful of signing another ProConti team for the January 25-29 event, with a strong contingent of Australian teams eager to take on their trans-Tasman rivals.