Henttala storms to victory to become champion of Finland
20 June 2021
Joonas Henttala finally realized a long-held dream on Sunday when he won the road race at Finland’s National Road Championships, powering away from Ukko Peltonen to claim his first national title and first professional victory.
A special victory for a special year as 2021 marks the 100th anniversary since the discovery of insulin. What a way for Henttala and Team Novo Nordisk, the world’s first all diabetes professional cycling team to proudly show what is possible with diabetes with their first ever national road champions jersey.
“It really is a dream come true,” began Henttala. “I have been trying for a long time to win this jersey and after coming very close in the past, it’s so good to finally stand on the top step of the podium and celebrate. I am extremely proud to be national champion, I consider it to be a great honor and as an athlete competing with diabetes it’s very special to achieve this win in 2021.”
“I would like to say a huge thank you to my wife Lotta and my family and all at Team Novo Nordisk for the infrastructure and support we athletes receive, it’s second to none and allows us to compete week in week out at this level. And also, to my local club here in Finland, IBD Cycling Club who supported me all day today and made the race really hard from the flag drop.”
Henttala escaped with Peltonen on the final laps of the 171 kilometre course and was clearly the stronger of the two. Each time Peltonen attacked, Henttala was able to shut him down before biding his time to unleash the race winning attack in the final few hundred meters.
“I had super legs for the first time this year,” continued Henttala. “It feels insanely good. It’s been a difficult year so far and I put all my energy into this day. The route suited me really well, hard circuits with punchy climbs and I knew that Ukko is very strong, so if I could get away with him, we had a good chance of staying away.
“He put in some strong attacks and despite starting to cramp a little in the final kilometers, I managed to save enough energy to go all out in the last 300 hundred meters. I knew I had to be in a good position for the final corner and I had his draft before coming around and I knew I had the edge at that point.”
Since the team’s inception as Team Novo Nordisk in 2013 they have stuck with a roster made up entirely of athletes with type 1 diabetes, making this first champions jersey an extra important achievement and milestone many thought they would never reach.
“This is a thoroughly well-deserved victory for Joonas,” said General Manager Vassili Davidenko. “He has been working very hard towards this for many years and finally he’s on the top step of the podium wearing a very special jersey which he will proudly wear for what will be an unforgettable year for him.”
“It’s a very special day, not only for Joonas, but for all of us at Team Novo Nordisk and our extended family around the world. We are very proud of Joonas’ achievement in an important year that the marks the 100th anniversary since the discovery of insulin and 100 years of life for everyone affected by diabetes around the world.”
“Our message is very clear: diabetes will not stop you from achieving your dreams! Congratulations to all and thank you from the entire Team Novo Nordisk family!”
Photo credit: https://pyoraily.fi/uutiset/joonas-henttala-miesten-maantieajon-suomen-mestariksi/