Cambria, California — Team Novo Nordisk earned its first podium finish at a major U.S. stage race and best finish of the year when second year professional Kevin De Mesmaeker sprinted to a third place finish on Stage 4 of the Amgen Tour of California.
The result also marked De Mesmaeker’s first career podium as a pro. “Today, I was sprinting for victory,” the Belgian said. “Being on the podium felt good, but now, all I want is a first place,” De Mesmaeker said. “We’re here to win and I think we showed that today.”
De Mesmaeker and five other riders immediately attacked following the race start in Monterey. The group gained a gap of four minutes on the 105-mile route that ran along California’s iconic coastal Highway 1. The peloton delayed their chase too long, letting the breakaway reach the final kilometers into Cambria with a gap of nearly two minutes.
After working well together for more than 100 miles, the breakaway companions turned into fierce competitors in the final stretch. De Mesmaeker read his fellow escapees well, waiting until the final 200 meters to sprint. Racing to the finish, he was edged by Will Routley (Optum Pro Cycling presented by Kelly Benefits Strategies) and Gregory Daniel (Bissell Development Team) in the final seconds.
“These guys have proved over and over again that they can compete against the best cyclists in the world,” said Team Novo Nordisk co-founder and CEO, Phil Southerland. “I’m so proud of Kevin. He had this day picked and has been fighting all year. He showed great class when the first thing he told me was this was a team effort. These riders are inspiration to millions who live just like they do. They are my heroes.”
“Since late 2012, we’ve been working on this unique cycling project to develop riders with diabetes into the best athletes in the world,” Team Novo Nordisk General Manager Vassili Davidenko said. “Today we showed that our riders can not only compete, but can beat some of the best in the world.”
The world’s first all-diabetes pro cycling team continues racing at the Amgen Tour of California on Thursday with Stage 5. The 108-mile race begins with a unique start on the 1,200-foot long Pismo Beach pier before heading south to a beachfront finish in Santa Barbara.