Team Novo Nordisk, the first team of professional cyclists with diabetes

There is a US professional cycling team of 18 athletes from eleven countries around the world, all suffering from diabetes. This team is part of an even larger project, the Team Novo Nordisk, which includes more than 100 sportsmen from different disciplines, cycling, triathlon, running, sharing the same disease: diabetes. Each year, they participate in more than 500 races in the world. The men’s cycling Team Novo Nordisk, registered as professional continental UCI (International Cycling Union), on last March 19 participated in the Milan-Sanremo 2016. In September, they will return to Italy to run the Agostoni Cup, the Milan-Turin and the Tour of Piedmont.

But how did the idea of Team Novo Nordisk born? Novo Nordisk is a Danish pharmaceutical company, specialized in the treatment of diabetes and hemophilia. It produces 49% of the global insulin. Phil Southerland, co-founder and CEO of the team, and Novo Nordisk have teamed up to create the team on the basis of a shared vision that sees sport as a source of health to which the diabetic should not give up. The aim was to inspire, educate and empower people with diabetes worldwide.

In 2006, a first group of eight diabetic cyclists raced the Race Across America, the most tiring ultracycling race in the world, for 5,000 kilometers; the team won the race in 2007, 2009 and 2010 editions and soon became a magnet for all endurance athletes with diabetes.

Today, Novo Nordisk team competes on a world scale and its components are an example for diabetics around the globe. The team’s mission is to inspire, educate and empower people with diabetes through the race. Competing, in fact, that the team demonstrates how you can live with the disease at the same time realizing your personal goals. Without forgetting that sport helps to counteract the worsening of the disease and the onset of related conditions.

“For us, every game is a chance to show that having diabetes does not mean giving up your dreams” says Vassili Davidenko, general manager of Team Novo Nordisk.

Among the team members there is also the Italian Andrea Peron, 28, of Camposanpiero, Padua. The guy was diagnosed at age of 16, but this did not prevent him to keep running. During his first year in Team Novo Nordisk he ranked fourteen times in the top 10, while in 2014 he gained three goals in the top 10. At the Milano-Sanremo Andrea was highlighted since the start: with 10 other cyclists he led the race for 265 km. The first cyclists of Team Novo Nordisk to cross the finish line of the Super Classic was the Spanish David Lozano, 94° at 3’17” from the winner. Other five members of the team were placed between the 151st and 160th place, arriving 14 minutes after the winner.

This is the testimony of Chris William, team athlete: “I’ve not always been an athlete. 11 years ago I was overweight, I was smoking and not practicing any sport. I moved to a house with a co-tenant triathlete, who convinced me to give up bad habits and buying a bike. Since then I have not stopped. Cycling and exercise help me to manage diabetes. They keep me fit and healthy, and this keeps the blood glucose levels under control. “