ROAD CYCLING: “Our main goal is Tour de France 2021” says Team Novo Nordisk VP of Marketing and Medical Affairs Matt Vogel, in an exclusive interview with Velomotion. “We want to use the next five years to become a top 25 team in the world, and earn ourselves a wildcard for the Tour de France”.
The keen observer has by now spotted the procontinental Team Novo Nordisk in the Peloton. As the world’s first ever all diabetes cycling team , Team Novo Nordisk was founded in 2008, with more than professional cycling in mind.
“We want to show everyone living with diabetes that it doesn’t change anything. A person with diabetes can be on the very same level as everyone else”, says Vogel, emphasizing that their mission reaches far wider than just running a professional cycling team.
However, there are no doubt that top results so far have been absent. The Novo Nordisk-riders have altogether only cashed in one win. They are currently ranked by Procyclingstats as the 110th best team in the world, behind the likes of Spanish side burgos-BH and Danish Team Trefor.
For many cycling fans, Novo Nordisk’s results confirms the unavoidable presumption that diabetes affects the rider’s physical abilities. Matt Vogel, supported by rider Joonas Hentala can’t stress enough that this presumption simply is false.
“Diabetes doesn’t make me any less of a rider. It’s simply a part of who I am. I believe I one day can win a professional race” says 24-year-old Finnish rider Joonas Hentala.
VP of Marketing and Medical Affairs Matt Vogel points to Javier Megias, the Novo Nordisk-rider who has achieved the best GC-results the last couple of seasons.
“Just look at Javier. He used to ride on a world tour team (Fuji Servetto and Saunier Duval). Even as a young rider, he was more than good enough”, says Vogel. Javier Megias strongest result this season has to be his 14th place overall in Tour of California.
Long term development
There are five years until Tour de France 2021. Its naturally ambitious to aim for the biggest bike race on the planet. However, five years give Team Novo Nordisk plenty of time to continue their development. And it’s all about the long haul for Matt Vogel & co.
“We want to make sure that the riders have their diabetes management in control, and that’s why we are not in a rush. We want to get there slowly” says Vogel.
Matt Vogel proudly goes on about the development team Novo Nordisk has established, to ensure sustainable improvement for many years ahead. “Our own internal development program is built to produce professional riders. We have two camps each year here in Atlanta Georgia, where we invite 50 young athletes to join us. Here, we put them on a bike, and test their power to weight ratio. Several of the best get to join the development team, and will have a chance in the future to progress to our professional team”.
Vogel further reveals that the plan is to get into the Giro d’Italia a year or two before they aim for Le Grand Bouclé in France.
“We hope to get a wild card for the Giro soon. We have already participated in the Milan – San Remo twice, and will also race the Tour of Poland this year. We gradually grow into the World Tour level.”
Seeing their participation in Milan – San Remo, it does sound like they’ve already made friends with the organiser of the Giro, RCS Sport. Vogel confirms that this friendship could be useful.