Meet TNN Athletes: Louis Evans
15 December 2020
After attending Team Novo Nordisk Talent ID camp, Louis Evans was excited to finally get his shot at joining the Development Team in 2020. Then COVID-19 happened. In the below interview, Louis talks about how he dealt with it and life’s other challenges he’s faced so far by the tender age of 19.
How has 2020 been for you in general?
It’s not been too bad. There was a lot of training solo all through the Spring and Summer. Then we managed to race with the team in Turkey for a month.From Turkey it was to the US for another month, so I managed to get two months of decent racing in. It ended up not too bad at all.
This was your first year with the devo team. You must have been excited to get going at the beginning of the year then COVID-19 hit.
At the beginning of the year, there were five new guys on the devo team, so we were all in the same position where we were excited to do some racing. But Covid-19 happened and all the races were canceled. I took the lockdown opportunity to still do some good training at home because we were still allowed to go out on the roads in the UK. There were some guys who were stuck on the turbo in their countries so it could have been a lot worse for me. My mindset was to just get some training in and try to be as fit as possible if the racing returned.
It sounds like you decided to keep a positive outlook on lockdown. We’ll get to some of the hardships you’ve faced in life in a bit but do you think they’ve helped how you deal with life’s situations?
Yeah, definitely. You’ve got to put things in perspective. The pandemic is an inconvenience, but it’s not something that has majorly caused us issues. Obviously, some people have really been affected like losing family members, but that’s not been the case for our family, which is lucky. It could be a lot worse. I just had to sit at home and ride the bike. It got a bit boring sometimes being on my own but I love riding my bike, that’s why I love cycling, so to just go out and ride my bike for a whole year wasn’t such a bad thing for me.
What were your first thoughts?
My nan was diagnosed with diabetes but not until she was 74. It was very late in life for her and my knowledge of it was around her and she really struggled with it. She stopped doing all the stuff she was doing and had a lot of problems controlling it. So when I was diagnosed, my first thought was ‘’oh dear, this is what I’m in for.’’
When did you discover Team Novo Nordisk?
I’d known of Team Novo Nordisk as I’d seen them racing in the Dubai Tour, but I never thought much of it. I thought it was just a charity team. I had no reason before to go and look into them. I was in my hospital bed and I was scrolling through Instagram and I saw a post on the team on Cycling Weekly and saw it said “Changing Diabetes” on the kit so I had a look into them. Immediately I thought ‘’wow.’’ I was definitely intrigued.
For about the first hour after being diagnosed I thought that was it, no more cycling for me. But that quickly went out of my head as soon as I found the team and read up about it on the website, I knew it wasn’t the end of my cycling.
After about a week out of hospital, I got back on the bike. Then I went and did my first race just three weeks after getting diagnosed and I knew this wasn’t going to be something that was going to stop me. I didn’t finish the race because I was so weak and unfit, but I knew after seeing the team that cycling with type 1 diabetes was something I was capable of.
Luckily the nursing team at my clinic was really supportive of me getting back into exercise. One nurse in particular, Sarah, is a triathlete and they put me with her because they knew I was into sport. She was straight away all in favor of me continuing with exercise.
How did you make contact with the team?
We have a friend of a friend who works for Novo Nordisk. When I was diagnosed, our friend was out for a meal with his friend and mentioned it. He said, “does he know about the team? I’ll see if I can get him in contact with one of the riders”. I never met the guy but he was so keen on doing something for me. He told me to apply to the talent ID camp and he got me a FaceTime with Stephen Clancy. That was my first real contact with the team, speaking to Stephen.
Did you bombard him with questions?
I was too nervous speaking to a pro cyclist. I did ask him some questions but I was so nervous, I couldn’t believe I was speaking to a pro rider. Now that I’m on the devo team, I’m actually riding his old bike, it’s surreal to go from being a fan to being at training camps and sitting at dinner with him and riding his bike. It’s really weird.
When was the first time you met him in person?
The first time I met him was for the Novo Nordisk video – that was a really cool experience. We were in Mallorca for this shoot and didn’t know anything about the Stephen surprise. I was walking along the seafront one day and a Novo Nordisk rider came straight past me on the bike. It was so fast and I couldn’t tell who it was. I’d met Sam Brand before at a ride in the UK and I messaged him to ask if he knows of any Team Novo Nordisk riders in Mallorca at the moment because I’d love to train with them while I’m here. As it turned out it was Stephen and he was there to do the video so it’s a good job no one let the cat out of the bag.
What was the experience like the first time you attended the talent ID camp which would eventually lead to you getting on the devo team?
Three months before the camp, I’d broken my femur skiing. I was on the bike six weeks before the camp from doing nothing recovering from snapping my femur. I went to the camp and I could ride the bike fine but I couldn’t walk properly yet. We’d go out riding for 3 or 4 hours and I loved that. Then we go back and I’d dread walking down to the food court. That was the hardest part of the day.
I went to the first camp and it was a fantastic experience. It was mind-blowing seeing the organization and meeting all these different people. I’d only been diagnosed six months before the camp and I remember thinking, what am I doing here with all these people living with diabetes. Then I remembered, oh yeah, I’m one of them.
Getting diagnosed made me 10 times the better cyclist I was before. I felt like this opportunity was waiting for me and I just have to get to it. It gave me that drive to want to be better. Diabetes makes you want to be better.