New to Team Novo Nordisk for the 2019 season is two-time Hungarian national champion Peter Kusztor. The former Olympian was only diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in August 2018.
The 34-year-old Kusztor was racing for MyBike Stevens when he crashed on Stage 3 of the Czech Cycling Tour and broke his collarbone. Before going in for surgery, doctors checked his fasting blood glucose levels, which were elevated. Eventually, endocrinologists diagnosed him with type 1 diabetes.
Initially, the diagnosis and lifestyle changes were difficult for Kusztor, and he couldn’t imagine continuing racing professionally while managing the condition. Not wanting to give up his career and dream, Kusztor reached out to Team Novo Nordisk to receive information on nutrition and training advice for someone newly diagnosed with diabetes. After several conversations, the team offered him a spot on the 2019 squad.
How did you get into cycling?
My father was a cyclist. When I was a kid, I played football but also went riding with my father. Eventually, I realized that it wasn’t possible to invest equal amounts of time into football and cycling. When my father told me that it was time to choose one, I went with cycling. That was in 1993 and my sports career began.
Who are you on and off the bike?
Even when I’m not training or racing, I like to ride a bike. My wife and two daughters go nearly everywhere by bike.
During a race, I focus on enjoying every moment; I like to have fun and play, but it is also about racing intelligently and safely. A big focus is on trying to save as much energy as possible.
In general, I prefer long, hard races, but I’ve been known to have a strong performance in a TT as long as I can find a good rhythm.
Where do you call home? What makes it special?
I live in Páty, which is a small village near Budapest. My wife and I have a nice flat there. It’s calm and perfect for raising kids and training. It is special because it is home and where my heart is.
Do you have any pets?
No, but my oldest daughter really wants a cat, so I think we might have a cat soon….
How was your first race with the team?
My first race was very nice with the team. I enjoyed every moment throughout the UAE Tour. My job was to concentrate on the race, nothing more. The entire team was very professional–the riders and the staffs. I was a little nervous before every start, which put a little pressure on myself because I wanted to race well and do a great job. We had a lot of jokes throughout the race, and in my opinion, we had great teamwork and everybody gave 100%.
Were any things different than previous teams?
Team Novo Nordisk has more staff helping the riders, which actually meant I was able to relax more knowing everything was under control. Also, we met with young kids with diabetes, which was such a nice thing and something very different from my previous projects.
This was your first WT stage race. What did you learn from the experience?
Like every cycling race, you have to focus well. This includes thinking about how you move in the peloton, where you have the possibility to save a little energy, how you drink, eat, and etc. You also need to enjoy every moment during the day which is not so easy but is actually one of the most important things. Another thing that I took away was learning how important it is to recover every day from the effort.
First race with diabetes. Was it challenging to add in diabetes management while racing? Were any things different when racing with diabetes?
I was a little afraid with can I would manage my blood glucose during the race, but the Dexcom G6 helped me a lot because I could see my glucose throughout the race. Now having one race under my belt, I don’t think it is all that different how we eat and drink compared to riders without diabetes. You have to eat a lot during a race because of the level of effort. All the doctors and riders helped me a lot, so with these guys, everything was so much easier.
Goals for the season?
To best honest, I don’t have any specific goals for the year. My top priorities are to enjoy every moment training and racing. This isn’t always easy because I know that there are going to be bad days on the bike.
In general, I would like to get some nice results, maybe a podium or even a win, but as long as I do my job well, I know the results will come. Additionally, I always aim to be a good teammate and support the other guys. I know I have 14 years as a pro, so I would like to help teach the younger guys and be a veteran when possible.