Diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when he was 22, the now 24-year-old Vaclav Snuparek recently graduated from university with a degree in physiotherapy. While racing as an elite cross-country mountain biker, Vaclav began to notice things were off as he started to experience symptoms of severe fatigue, cramping, and sudden weight loss. Additionally, his results began to dip. At the time, he was studying physiology and recognized what he thought were the typical diabetes symptoms.
For Vaclav, the diagnosis came as a relief because he knew he could educate himself around the condition and would be able to manage his diet and lifestyle. From the beginning, he knew he would able to get back to his previous level on the bike.
Within three days of his diagnosis, Snuparek contacted Team Novo Nordisk and received a swift response. He began sending the team his monthly training overviews, and a year later, he was selected for his first talent ID camp. The Czech describes the experience as an eyeopener that helped him learn how to manage his diabetes better while training and racing and also giving him a goal of making the team’s pipeline and a clear path for achieving it.
In 2019, Snuparek decided to split the final year of his degree between Belgium and Prague and raced 45 days on the Belgian circuit in the same events as Team Novo Nordisk’s development team. The decision paid off. A second invite to talent ID camp beckoned and his results earned him a spot on the development team for the 2020 season.
Now that 2020 season has arrived, we caught up with Snuparek to find out how things were going as he settled into the first few weeks with Team Novo Nordisk. From the outside looking in, it’s easy to think that elite athletes fit right into a new team seamlessly. For the development riders, the step up into the team pipeline can be a challenge and wildly different from the day to day life they’ve been used to.
- After experiencing two warm weather winter training camps in Southeastern Spain, how’s it been going?
It has been great. I am very glad we had the December and January camps. Through those, I was able to get to know more people in the team, both the pro riders and staff, and connect with some of them personally.
It really made me feel like the development team is a solid part of the full project. While the devos aren’t in the direct spotlight, we are not overlooked either. Everyone is trying to help us with everything, which is amazing.
The first couple of weeks when I started training were hard. I was coming back from an injury that had me laying two weeks in bed waiting for the bones to heal, so I was starting from a very low fitness level.
Normally I would do a lot of cross-country skiing even some XC skiing races combined with around 30% cycling in the deep winter, but now I’ve only put my skis on once or twice. Training wise, I’ve been training more on the bike, because the first races of the season are going to be much earlier than I am used to.
It is way more cycling focused for me, but I am starting to feel good on the bike thanks to those two training camps in warm Spanish weather. I stayed longer in Spain both times to make the most out of it. Also, I don’t really have any other responsibilities like going to university or work, so I’m able to focus exclusively on training. Recovery is a lot faster when you only ride-eat-sleep, so I’ve been just doing that and enjoying the process.
- It can’t all be about the bike and a work life balance is as important to pro athletes as it is to most people, how do you balance the training and racing with your free time and what do you do with that free time?
In my free time, I am trying to keep myself up to date with the world of physiotherapy through reading and studying. More often than not, I’m just listening to interesting podcasts from world-recognized physiotherapists or reading new studies. I am always keen to spice up my training a little bit, so if I can figure out with my coach ways to squeeze in some XC skiing, tennis, or even climbing in my training plan, that will make me happy, also because I can do that with some of my friends who I don’t see very often. Of course, the gym is a must for me. I’m more cautious about the food I am eating, which has led me to new discover new recipes.
- Have you had more free time to enjoy these activities since you graduated?
Yes, definitely. Being able to focus on training and all things associated with that makes me feel grateful. It is so much easier to just focus on this one goal. I hope it will make me a better and faster rider and that the season will bring some great results! Can’t wait for the races to start!
Snuparek’s race calendar will start in March with the Team Novo Nordisk development team. Keep up to date with all our upcoming races and results on our social media channels and team website!