Team Novo Nordisk: From California to Paris

Team Novo Nordisk, 2016 Tour of California
David Lozano, Team Novo Nordisk, 2016 Amgen Tour of California Individual Time Trial

You’ve definitely read a lot about Team Novo Nordisk here on recently. The reasons for that are pretty clear to my frequent readers. But for everyone else, their results alone – aside from their mission – are worthy of note

The team, made up entirely of professional cyclists with Type 1 diabetes, have been at the Tour of California for three consecutive years now. But this year has been particularly successful for the team, driven in a large part by World Tour veteran Javier Megias. Javier took 14th overall in the general classification at the Tour of California, going head to head with some of the best cyclist in the world. In addition to the GC success in California, Martijn Verschoor was able to cross sabres in stage 1 for a 5th place sprint finish.

The Gibraltar climb and the time trial were the most defining moments for me. The climb was insanely challenging while the time trial was just brutal.

David Lozano, Rider, Team Novo Nordisk (pictured above)

But success has not been limited to California. As of June 1, 2016, Team Novo Nordisk had earned six top 5 finishes and eight top 10 finishes, including the teams first overall victory in the team classification at the Tour of Estonia.

Then came the Tour de Korea, where Javier Megias again showed his form earning the teams first ever second place podium finish in the general classification.

Team Novo Nordisk directeur sportif Vassili Davidenko. Photo © VeloImages. Used with permission.
Team Novo Nordisk directeur sportif Vassili Davidenko. Photo © VeloImages. Used with permission.

The Tour de Korea has been a good race to this team over the years. I am very pleased with the entire squad. It was inspiring to see how aggressive our riders raced all week in breakaways and sprint finishes. Javi finished 14th overall last month at the Tour of California against some of the best cyclists in the world. Now he earned his career best at the Tour de Korea. We’re excited to see what happens throughout the remainder of this season, especially at next month’s Tour de Pologne.

Vassili Davidenko, Senior Vice President of Athletics and General Manager, Team Novo Nordisk

The Tour de Pologne (Tour of Poland) will mark another significant first for the team in 2016: the team’s first world tour stage race. This is critical, as Team Novo Nordisk CEO and Co-founder Phil Southerland has set a goal for the team to be in the Tour de France in 2021.

Phil Southerland is a self-described “…boy that was shaving his legs at 14.” From there he taught himself the ropes racing with a group from a local bike show. He continued riding and racing through college, but eventually found himself pitching the idea of an all diabetic pro cycling team to vendors at Interbike. That idea has continued to grow towards the Tour de France goal since inception. 2016 has all the potential to be the turning point in an effort that has produced not only Team Novo Nordisk, but also the charitable Team Type 1 foundation.

2021 will mark the 100th anniversary of the discovery of insulin – a pivotal moment in history for suffers of Type 1 diabetes that depend on daily insulin injections to manage their condition. Phil Southerland cites this, along with “enough runway” to meet the necessary obligations for a Tour de France wildcard spot, as a perfect target to get Team Novo Nordisk into the most famous bicycle race in the world.

The Tour de France comes down to ranking. We know we need to be in the top 25 professional teams by 2021 to increase our chances at a wild card invitation.

Since 2014, Team Novo Nordisk has seen an annual 20% ranking improvement, but in order to achieve a top 25 ranking we will need more riders, because more riders lead to more points. We also need to get more results so we can earn more points. Finally, we need to compete in bigger races because World Tour races equal more points… a higher ranking gives us the ability to get noticed and be eligible for a wild card spot.

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

With that plan in mind, the results and scheduled races of this year seem to be paving a smooth path towards Paris in 2021. It is unfortunate how often those living with diabetes hear about what they can’t do. Phil Southerland, along with the management and team members of Team Novo Nordisk, are instead showing us what they can do.

Photo ©Team Novo Nordisk. Used with permission.
Photo ©Team Novo Nordisk. Used with permission.