While new to Team Novo Nordisk’s men’s pro team for the 2020 season, the 25-year-old Gerd de Keijzer raced three seasons with the pro squad from 2014-2017. The Dutchman briefly stepped away from the professional ranks before returning in 2019 to Team Novo Nordisk’s development squad to gain experience. Based on his results, he earned a spot back on the pro team for the 2020 season.
Growing up as an only child, de Keijzer fell in love with cycling at an early age and was already competing by age eight, the youngest age allowed in the Netherlands. Both his parents are passionate cycling fans, and he spent many holidays going to bike races throughout Europe.
While being a spectator at the Tour de France in 2003, de Keijzer started exhibiting the standard diabetes symptoms. His family took him to a team doctor during the race, who suggested de Keijzer had diabetes. They went to a local hospital where he was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at nine-years-old.
- How did your experience with the development team differed the second time around?
I’ve been with the team for a while now and I see both professional growth and just in overall strength. The team has a family feeling and everyone is motivated to help one other. We support each other on a higher level than just racing and that’s what you need in a team. We’ve proven through our results over past few years that both the devo and pro teams are improving and I can’t wait to do my part to support that growth in the 2020 season.
- Where do you feel you’ve grown/improved since leaving the pro team?
I’d say in pretty much everything, both on and off the bike.
Mentally, I’ve got a lot stronger to deal with a variety of situations. On the bike, I’ve improved on all aspects. We are two years out since I raced for the Spanish squad Equipo Oleka and another year with Team Novo Nordisk’s devo team. The 2019 season was probably my best ever in terms of both form and results.
- How has life changed personally?
The first year when I didn’t receive a pro contract was tough. I wasn’t ready to give up bike racing, so I joined Equipo Oleka, which was run by my friend, Fernando Guitterez.
I raced in Spain and kept training while keeping. in touch with Phil [Southerland, Team Novo Nordisk CEO and Co-Founder] and Daniel [Holt, Team Novo Nordisk’s Development Team General Manager] about returning to the team. Eventually, they offered me a spot racing for the devo team during the 2019 season.
I showed up with only one goal: getting back to the pro team.
- Where do you call home? What’s your wife’s name? Any pets? What do you like to do when you are not training/racing?
I live in Mont-roig del camp, Tarragona, Spain. I’m married to my wife, Lauren, who has also been a professional cyclist. I have two dogs, both welsh corgi cardigans named Caesar and Nero.
When I’m not training or racing, I love to go to the beach with my wife and the dogs. We really enjoy watching the dogs going wild on the beach and jumping into the sea and like cruising around in the car through the mountains and exploring new place with restaurants, surroundings, and views.
- Dan Holt says you really grew into a leader’s role with the devo team this past season. What was your motivation around that and were there any specific changes you made?
I think all of that is a natural, intrinsic thing for me.
I was one of the “old” guys on the devo team this year. I’m one of the few who has already been to university where I studied to be a sport teacher.
I’m a very social person who’s always happy to help. I’ve spent so many years on the bike training and racing (both with and without diabetes) so I have a fair bit of experience which was helpful when I was back on the devo team.
When I saw someone who needed help or a tip for training/racing, I always offered it. Eventually, guys were coming to me and asking questions more and more, which I appreciated. I’m always happy to help out.
- How are you different as a rider joining the pro team in 2020?
I’d say I’m much more professional and stronger in both body and mind. Even though I missed a season with the team, I’ve made forward steps towards making myself a better bike racer and a more mature and stronger person overall. I can’t wait for the season to start and show the world what’s possible with type 1 diabetes.