Get To Know TNN: Declan Irvine
12 September 2018
Racing with Team Novo Nordisk’s men’s professional squad as a stagiaire for the remainder of the 2018 season is 19-year-old Aussie Declan Irvine. He was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 12 after a two-week ski trip, and his family noticed he had lost a significant amount of weight. A week later, he started feeling very sick and eventually began to lose his vision. He went to the hospital where he was diagnosed with diabetes. He was lucky to have a very supportive hospital team who told him that diabetes should never define him.
How did you get involved in sports?
In 2013, my mom asked me to participate in a triathlon with her, and I quickly got hooked on the sport and training. I enjoyed the run, but wasn’t a great swimmer, so I looked forward to the bike leg because it was where I excelled. In 2015, I represented Australia at the Duathlon World Championships in Adelaide. That same year, I attended Team Novo Nordisk’s annual Talent ID camp and knew full-time cycling was what I wanted to do.
Who are you off the bike?
Up until this year, I was still in school, so I didn’t have much of a life outside of school and training. I love tinkering with RC cars and working in my local bike shop, and I look forward to my off-season when I can spend more time with my family and friends.
What was it like to live in the Devo house?
I enjoyed my time in the USA this year. I’ll admit that setting up house for the first time was a little daunting. My first grocery shopping experience involved going into a huge shop, trying to locate everything and navigating new brands. This meant spending time reading nutritional labels to find similar items to what I was used to back in Australia. The shock of the first bill blew me away, but that wasn’t as bad as trying to master cooking those first few weeks.
I quickly learned my way around a supermarket, how to structure my meal plans around my training program, and cook up bulk meals and training portables for heavy training days to avoid having to cook.
The house the Devo’s live in is great and well furnished. It’s also in a prime location for training — only 30 minutes away from Sawnee Mountain in Georgia and 1 hour from the Blue Ridge Mountains near Dahlonega. From a training perspective, it couldn’t be better.
Where are you living for the rest of the season?
I am writing this while still living in Cumming Georgia, but the Devo Team is about to leave for a five-week European block of racing that takes us to Belarus, Estonia, Belgium, Turkey and Romania. After the last race in Turkey on September 31st, I head back home to Newcastle to prepare for my upcoming stagiaire role at the Tour of China I.
How difficult/easy is it to be so far from home? What do you miss the most about Australia?
After the newness of living in America wore off, I found it quite difficult at the start of the season. Before this, my longest trip had only been about seven weeks away from home. It all caught up with me when I hit that mark in early April and spent my first birthday away from home and was only able to talk to my parents over Skype. It was tough, but I just had to think about the opportunity I had been given, and that’s a big driving force for me.
The things I miss most about home are being able to do my own thing, play with my dog, spend time with family and being in my own bed. You take those things for granted until you’re on the other side of the world.
What are your favorite memories from the Devo Team?
My favorite memories from my time with the Devo Team are getting to race with my best mates. Some of these guys I’ve had the privilege of knowing for the past three years and spending this year living with them has been a blast. Every guy has his funny quirks, and you can always depend on them to brighten up your day if you’re not feeling it.
I’ve really appreciated training with like-minded individuals who have a few things in common—we all have diabetes, and we all love racing our bikes.
Do you have any pets? If so, what are their names?
I have an Australian Blue Heeler named Tillie. I wouldn’t quite call her a dog as she gets treated like a third child.
Looking ahead, where will you spend your off-season? Do you have any plans?
I’m going to spend my off-season at home catching up with friends and family and trying to relax as much as I can before starting my preparation for my next big year of racing. It’s nice being Australian as I get a whole year of summer and I never have to brave the cold. This time of year is Australia’s cycling season, so I am looking forward to catching up with my cycling friends at a couple of local events.
My family and I are planning a weekend away to watch the World Rally Championships, and the following weekend we have the V8 Supercars in Newcastle, which is a huge weekend for our town.
Then it will be time to start my preparations for my upcoming big year of racing.
What are your goals for the rest of this year?
My goals for the rest of the season are to keep doing what I’ve been doing, be consistent and dependable and use these next five weeks of UCI races as building blocks to really step up fitness to do my first pro race at Tour of China I in late September.