There was a time when the idea of diabetic pro cyclists was rare. Common wisdom held that diabetics had too many obstacles to be competitive. However, thanks to the continued efforts of Team Novo Nordisk, we’ve seen that diabetic pro cyclists can compete at the highest levels of the sport. And do it successfully.
Recently two additional riders with type 1 diabetes have made the transition to the pros. Frenchman Quentin Valognes and Dutchman Rik van IJzendoorn have moved up from the Team Novo Nordisk development squad onto the men’s pro squad as stagiaires for the remainder of the 2016 season.
Team Novo Nordisk is a unique team made up exclusively of cyclists with diabetes, so gaining two strong and talented riders is exciting for us. Quentin grew up in our development program over the past several years, starting on the junior squad. He is pure talent and he can definitely win. Now the focus will be on helping him adapt to the pro level.
Vassili Davidenko, General Manger, Team Novo Nordisk
Quentin Valognes was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when he was just six years old, but it didn’t stop him from chasing his dream of racing his bike. By age 12, he was competing and quickly grew into a strong sprinter on the track. In his four years with Team Novo Nordisk’s development team, the 20-year-old Frenchman earned a list of accolades, including winning Stage 5 and Stage 6 of the Tour de l’Abitibi Desjardins (2014) and a podium at the French National KeirinChampionship (2014).
It’s an honor to be selected, but I’m aware that I still need to earn my spot on the professional squad. I know this is just the beginning. I embrace my diabetes and I’m excited to have an even bigger platform to inspire, educate and empower people affected by the condition.
Quentin Valognes, Rider, Team Novo Nordisk
Rik van IJzendoorn
Rik van IJzendoorn made his pro debut in the Tour of Utah, where he is helping to support Javier Megias in the team’s efforts. Megias is fresh off of his second place finish at the 2016 Tour de Korea.
Van IJzendoorn was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes within the past year, but his history on the bike is much lengthier. Van IJzendoorn comes from a racing family and was competing by age eight. Since then, he has amassed several achievements, including Dutch Junior National Cyclocross Champion (1997), Dutch Junior National Road Champion (1999), runner-up at Dutch Junior National Cyclocross Championship (2004) and third place at the UCI cyclocross World Cup race in Pijnacker (2004).
I’m very happy to have this opportunity to race at the professional level; it will be a whole new experience for me racing against World Tour riders. Team Novo Nordisk has helped make my dream of racing against the best in the world come true. I’m fully focused on working for the team throughout the remainder of the season and hope to earn a contract for next season.
Rik van IJzendoorn, Rider, Team Novo Nordisk
These two riders represent the up and comers that will help drive Team Novo Nordisk towards their goal towards the 2021 Tour de France – while helping to inspire all of us that face challenges that some would dare tell us are insurmountable.