Team Novo Nordisk – When becoming 65th is better than winning

Team Novo Nordisk – When becoming 65th is better than winning

ROAD CYCLING: As the first ever all-diabetes professional cycling team, Team Novo Nordisk inspire youngsters worldwide to not give up their dreams despite being diagnosed with diabetes.


Charles Planet

In 2003, 10-year-old Frenchman Charles Planet received the diagnose diabetes type 1. He was devastated, and saw no reason to continue pursuing his dream of becoming a professional cyclist. March 5th 2016, at the age of 22, the very same man finished Strade Bianche as number 65.

Team Novo Nordisk

In 2013, Charles Planet signed for Team Novo Nordisk, after an impressive stagiere-run in the US. The team, formerly known as Team Type 1, is an arena for diabetes-affected athletes like Charles Planet. The Novo Nordisk-project supports athletes competing in a series of different sports, but is, however, spearheaded by the world’s first professional cycling team exclusively for riders with diabetes.

The sponsor, Novo Nordisk, is a Danish pharmaceutical company, with diabetes care medication as one of their areas of focus. In cooperation with the founder of the cycling team, Phil Sutherland, Novo Nordisk have managed to create a platform where diabetic athletes can find valuable inspiration. The team continuously develops new ways of supporting diabetes-affected athletes to fulfil their dreams. Today, the pro-continental team consists of 18 riders, all with a diabetes diagnosis.

The results

It’s an undeniable truth that the results have been absent for the Novo Nordisk-riders. Since it was established in 2008, the pro-continental team has only registered one win. In 2015, their most remarkable result was a 10th place overall in Tour of Turkey, by Spaniard Javier Mejias. Andrea Peron secured a an 8th place on the last stage in Tour of California, and later the same year, Dutchman Martin Verschoor finished 10th on the second stage in Tour of Dubai.

It is assumed among experts that the diabetes diagnosis itself doesn’t have an impact on the performance level. A person with diabetes can in theory perform at the same level as anyone else. However, having diabetes entails having a very detail oriented focus on nutrition. An unbalanced blood sugar can cause hyperglycaemia (high blood sugar), which again reduces the body’s oxygen consumption.

Huge resources are spent every day to optimize the way of overcoming these challenges. In the meantime, both in training and competitions, the riders loose valuable seconds. From this point of view, a 65th place in Strade – Bianche is quite impressive.

Strade Bianche and Milano – San Remo

Every now and then, Team Novo Nordisk is invited to quite big races, considering their competitive achievements. In 2016, the team has already participated in Strade Bianche and the Herald sun tour. March 19th marks the date for its participation in Milano – San Remo, where it also has been present in previous years. The team will also be visiting the US in May, for the Amgen Tour of California, and Poland for the Tour of Pologne in July.

The attention that the UCI and different organizers (especially the RCS) have given Team Novo Nordisk is priceworthy. It gives the cycling world an opportunity to shed some light on an important issue. It’s absolutely essential for a Team like Novo Nordisk to compete at the very highest level, where young spectators can find vital inspiration.

Scott Ambrose

In 2013, 18-year-old New Zealander Scott Ambrose felt something was wrong in training. His body didn’t respond the way it used to. The medical showed that the aspiring cyclist had diabetes type 1. Devastating news for a young athlete hoping to one day turn pro.

February 2nd 2015 marks the date when the all-diabetes professional cycling team got their first ever win. The 20-year-old Scott Ambrose soloed to a stage win in Tour de Filipinas.

The future

The fact that the Novo Nordisk-team is facing many challenges is beyond doubt. However, the riders are young and ambitious. Many of the them have already felt that anything can be possible, and this in turn, may give them motivation to continue to push hard for glory.

The average age in the team is 26. Six riders are under 23 years old (born in 1993 or later), and only two are above 30. With even further development within the diabetes field, the riders can become even stronger, and maybe one day stand on top of the podium in even bigger stage races.



About The Author

Erik Markussen studiert Jura in Oslo. Als Fahrrad-Verrückter hat er in der Vergangenheit schon für verschiedene Norwegische Zeitungen gearbeitet. Er ist außerdem passionierter Langläufer und selbsternannter Kevin Réza-Fan.

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