Bike Bible Speaks to…….. Team Novo Nordisk

The mission of Team Novo Nordisk is to inspire, educate and empower everyone affected by diabetes, powerful words from Phil Southerland, CEO & co-founder of Team Novo Nordisk who hopes by the year 2021 to take the team to the Tour de France. The American based team have yet to be invited to the world’s biggest bike race since being formed in 2012 but this has not stopped them making big waves in such a small time! We sent over some questions for the team and here is their replies!

 

Cycling: 107th Milan – Sanremo 2016 VERSCHOOR Martijn (NED)/ Milano – Sanremo (291Km) Milano Milaan © Tim De Waele

 

 

 

Phil Southerland, CEO & co-founder, Team Novo Nordisk

 

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How was the team formed? 

The idea for the team began when I helped a friend in college get motivated to manage his diabetes.  When I began to share that story, I saw how motivating it was for others with diabetes and I knew we were onto something.  I thought the bike could be a good platform to spread a positive message about diabetes so I created a business plan for a class project in college and this helped Team Type 1 (the predecessor to Team Novo Nordisk) get our first $400.00 on February 22, 2005.

 

With Team Type 1, we built some global awareness about what was possible with diabetes on the bicycle. Then in 2012, I got the opportunity to meet Jakob Riis, Executive Vice President, China, Pacific & Marketing, at Novo Nordisk to talk about my vision of getting the team to the Tour de France. I knew this was a company I wanted to partner with, but I was thrown a curve ball when he said they wanted us to field an all-diabetic team. We took a chance and decided to go for it. Team Novo Nordisk, the world’s first all-diabetes professional cycling team, officially formed in December 2012 and started racing the following season.

 

Was there a specific concept or plan behind it?

We see sports as an incredible worldwide platform to show people what may be possible with diabetes. The mission of Team Novo Nordisk is to inspire, educate and empower everyone affected by diabetes.

 

Where do you see the team going? Is there an end goal or plan or just taking things as they come?

One of the biggest goals for Team Novo Nordisk is to race at Le Tour de France by 2021, which marks the 100th anniversary of the discovery of insulin. It would be so meaningful to have an all-diabetes team competing on the sport’s biggest stage while celebrating this milestone discovery. As we pursue this goal, we have created a step-by-step plan to help us reach the top level of the sport.  Qualifying for the Tour de France is all about ranking. We know we need to be in the top 25 of professional teams by 2021 to increase our chances at receiving a wild card invitation. This year, we received invitations to Milano- San Remo and the Tour of Pologne, which were both steps in the right direction.  Javier Megias finished 14th overall at the Tour of California and second overall at the Tour of Korea and the entire team won the team classification at the Tour of Estonia. We’re constantly working to improve our ranking, to earn more points and participate in top-ranked races.

 

Where do you see the team going? Is there an end goal or plan or just taking things as they come?

One of the biggest goals for Team Novo Nordisk is to race at Le Tour de France by 2021, which marks the 100th anniversary of the discovery of insulin. It would be so meaningful to have an all-diabetes team competing on the sport’s biggest stage while celebrating this milestone discovery. As we pursue this goal, we have created a step-by-step plan to help us reach the top level of the sport.  Qualifying for the Tour de France is all about ranking. We know we need to be in the top 25 of professional teams by 2021 to increase our chances at receiving a wild card invitation. This year, we received invitations to Milano- San Remo and the Tour of Pologne, which were both steps in the right direction.  Javier Megias finished 14th overall at the Tour of California and second overall at the Tour of Korea and the entire team won the team classification at the Tour of Estonia. We’re constantly working to improve our ranking, to earn more points and participate in top-ranked races.

 

 

 

Vassili Davidenko, Team Novo Nordisk General Manager

 

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How do the individual riders prepare for races – things like does each one have a routine they like to follow or just turn up and ride?

Every rider has their own individual training program, which they follow at home. This program is very detailed and includes hours of training on various terrain/road profiles and specific training sessions. The riders work very closely with their coaches and communicate with them on a daily basis. Nutritional advice is also provided to each of our riders. Additionally, they get massages a few times per week. The ultimate goal is to have riders ready for upcoming events so they can show up prepared to get a top result.

 

Domestiques are known to keep the pro teams moving! How many does the team have?

We do have a few domestiques in the team. One of our standouts is Australian Chris Williams. In addition to being our oldest rider, he is also one of our most experienced.

 

 

 

Andy Stone, Team Novo Nordisk Chief Mechanic

 

Do you find readying the team bikes ready to race an enjoyable task?

Yes, I do. Cleaning and tuning the bike before a race can make all the difference for the rider and possibly the outcome for that race day. The more precise job I do saves the rider energy and allows them to perform at their best. My personal rule of thumb: When preparation meets opportunity, you give yourself a chance to win. (We LOVE this quote here at Bike Bible!)

 

Do you have any hints for our members on keeping their bike in race ready condition?

A clean bike runs and shifts better, especially when the cable and brake area under the BB (bottom bracket) is kept clean and well lubed.

  1. The chain is consumable, similar to tires. I recommend changing the chain whenever you need to replace your rear tire.
  2. The front tire should have less PSI than the rear tire.
  3. Always wipe the extra oil off your chain when applying lube. It is better to lube a warm chain over a cold one and best to lube a chain after a ride or after the bike has been warmed by the sun.
  4. Once a week, check all parts of the bike for any damage or areas that look like they may break.
  5. After each ride, check your tires for any pieces of glass, thorns, small rocks, or anything sharp that may have gotten stuck in your tires. Remove anything found. This may save you an unpleasant stop to fix a flat in the future

 

 

 

Kevin De Mesmaeker (BEL), Team Novo Nordisk professional cyclist

 

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What do you eat during rides, and even more importantly pre-ride, to be properly fueled?

As part of the world’s first all diabetes pro cycling team, people are often surprised to hear that there is not much difference between us and riders without diabetes in terms of what we eat. Before a ride, which is often my breakfast, I usually eat oatmeal with soy milk and water. I often drink four to six espresso shots as well. During a ride, I always take some rice tarts or paninis made with egg whites along with shot blocks or gels. I try to eat a little bit every hour.

 

If you could eliminate one bad “habit” from your riding style what would it be? 

In races, I sometimes feel like I wait too long to try something. I need to be more confident about my own skills as a rider and believe I’m strong enough to attack from the group in those difficult moments.

 

What is one piece of advice you would pass on to amateur riders?

Training and good nutrition is the key. You don’t need to be afraid to fail because it usually makes you stronger for the next race or ride. Try to touch your limits and then push past them little by little, but don’t forget your body also needs some recovery.

 

 

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