30 Jul - 5 Aug 2022

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Brand breaks away on opening stage of Tour de Pologne

British rider Sam Brand blew away the cobwebs in fine style on stage one of the Tour de Pologne, jumping into the early breakaway quintet to tick off the first objective for Team Novo Nordisk in the 79th edition of the WorldTour stage race and Andrea Peron finishing in the top 20.

Sam Brand:

“It’s great to finally get up the road again, I’ve been trying for a while and to be up there showing off our jersey and what’s possible with diabetes in a WorldTour race is just amazing. We all said in our pre-race meeting how important it was to make it into the break today and I’m happy that we could nail that objective on day one.”

“Today was a long one at over 200km, so it wasn’t easy but the motivation you get from being part of this special team gives us another gear and I was fortunate to be part of a group that wanted to collaborate, and the bunch let us go early and I think it was within the last 15km that we got caught.”

Head Sports Director Massimo Podenzana:

“That’s a satisfactory start for us today. It’s a big race for us and to be out front all day for 200km with Sam was a perfect scenario for two reasons. One because it meant that we could sit back and help Andrea to conserve some energy in the wheels and two because we show ourselves out front in a WorldTour race.”

“For Sam today it was a perfect moment to try his luck in the breakaway, it’s been a while since he found the right move and he did his job well. Tomorrow is another long one but should also come down to a sprint finish with a fast local lap of 8.6km at the end and we’ll try again with Andrea.”

Wet second stage in Poland has Kopecky learning from the front

Heavy rain fell on the peloton on stage two of the Tour de Pologne as another opportunity for the sprinters unfolded over 205km with Team Novo Nordisk all in for Italian Andrea Peron until an untimely puncture in the last few kilometers did for that plan and left neo pro Matyas Kopecky to fight on as first home for TNN.

Andrea Peron:

Ah, it’s frustrating because I felt good today and despite the flat tire I managed to stay in the group until the last three km and then the last drop of air went pffff. Nothing we can do, punctures are part of cycling and happen to everyone, but the timing was terrible.”

Matyas Kopecky:

“I’ve got to say these last two stages have been an experience. Even though I feel like I’ve done harder races what has hit me the most is the speed in the finals. It’s over 1,000 watts straight out of the corners and that has been an eye-opener. But this experience is going to be valuable going forward and being with my teammates racing at a WorldTour event is very special.”

Head Sports director Massimo Podenzana:

Tough day today. It was long and wet, and we almost got Umberto in the breakaway very early, but his move got caught quickly and the next one went immediately after and that caught us out. Andrea had some bad luck on the finishing lap with a puncture and we had to go late with Matyas.”

“He’s doing well in his first WorldTour race, but these are some of the best sprinters in the world and Matyas is here to gain experience of racing at this level and not with the pressure of trying to get a result.”

Third stage in Poland shakes the tree

The longest stage of this year’s Tour de Pologne topped out at 238km with a challenging finale packed with short, steep climbs and a tough uphill finish that brought the overall contenders out to play with Spanish climber David Lozano first over the line for Team Novo Nordisk.

David Lozano (ESP):

“It was a frustrating day really, very long and the first 200km were quite slow and uneventful. Not explosive at all and it made it hard to switch on and go with the attacks on the final climbs. I tried to move up before the finish, but the lead group was flying and already gone at that point so I did the best I could in my group and finished a few minutes back.”

Head Sports Director Massimo Podenzana:

“We should have been up in the breakaway today, that was the intention and I’m a little disappointed that we weren’t switched on at the start when the move went because we knew it would go early and that’s exactly what happened. Our objectives here are to get in the breakaway as much as possible and work for Andrea on the sprint stages, so we need to do better.”

Lumpy fourth stage for Team Novo Nordisk in Poland

If stage three gave us a taster of the climbs to come at the Tour de Pologne, then today’s fourth stage certainly brought the first course. Successive undulations followed by sweeping technical descents characterized the stage before a steep final climb led to the finish in the central square of Sanok.

Peter Kusztor (HUN) :

“We were straight out of the blocks today it was a very fast start and I think we were all thankful when the break went away because the pace eased off. The terrain however, remained difficult and we had a tough time of it over the last 30km.”

“I tried to hang on in the front group on the last climb, but the pace was too high, and I kept slipping back until I lost contact, but I fought back to finish in the bunch at the end, which was ok considering how the day started.”

Head Sports Director Massimo Podenzana:

“Today was about survival mode for us and with another hilly day coming tomorrow it will be the same again. Peter did well to finish quite strongly, and I was pleased with how Matyas worked for the team today. Even though he was having a tough time he dropped back for bottles twice and showed a lot of maturity with how he handled himself.”

Crash disrupts stage five sprint at Tour de Pologne

Beautiful sunshine poured down on stage five of the Tour de Pologne with short climbs in abundance and the peloton content to sit behind the breakaway, Team Novo Nordisk were not alone in biding their time for the sprint finale in downtown Rzeszow until a huge crash took out half the peloton.

With all the energy focused on supporting GP Kranj winner Andrea Peron, the world’s first all diabetes professional cycling team were left to rue a missed opportunity with the crash occurring in the final kilometer, but thankful that everyone made it through ok.

Andrea Peron (ITA):

“I don’t know if we would have achieved a good result, but we had ridden well throughout the day, and I was moving up at the time the crash happened after Peter had worked hard to keep me towards the front. But I was certainly lucky to avoid it. Suddenly everyone in front of me came down and let’s just say I came to an abrupt stop.”

“It’s quite lucky really but frustrating at the same time because we had a tough time holding on over the climbs today and I felt like we had a chance of a top ten in the sprint. There’s one more opportunity left after tomorrow’s time trial, so we need to come through within the time cut tomorrow and do our best on Friday in Krakow. I’m in a good place after GP Kranj and it would be a shame to miss another opportunity.”

Head Sports Director Massimo Podenzana:

“Another tough stage today. Another day where our guys realized that it’s not easy racing at WorldTour level day in day out. But we worked hard today, Peter did an excellent job staying with Andrea until the closing kilometers and before the crash I thought Andrea could do well today.”

“We passed the line once before the finish and could see that it was technical, lots of sharp corners but in the run in to the line those corners are taken much faster, and it only takes one guy to go down to disrupt everyone else and that’s what happened today. All our guys came through though and that’s the most important thing.”

Tour de Pologne comes to an end in downtown Krakow

This year’s Tour de Pologne drew to a close with the traditional high-speed sprint finale on the tree lined avenues of Krakow city center with Italian Andrea Peron coming close to another top 20 to cap off a hard week of racing for Team Novo Nordisk.

The world’s first all diabetes professional cycling team started the WorldTour race in a positive manner with Sam Brand straight up the road into the breakaway on stage one and GP Kranj winner Peron sprinting into the top 20. However, successive long days over 200km and challenging terrain took their toll and as for many other teams, the aim increasingly became about making it to the end.

Andrea Peron (ITA):

“The climbs at the beginning of the stage were actually ok. I was worried before that we would be hitting them at full pace like the days before, but the pace was more controlled. I mean it was a hard start, but we came through it ok and after the break went, we sat on.”

“It’s been a tough week of racing but nothing that we didn’t expect and it’s a shame to start with a top 20 and end by coming so close to another one. I had higher expectations, but this is a WorldTour race so we should be happy with how we rode and look ahead to the Tour of Denmark now.”

Head Sports Director, Massimo Podenzana:

“This race is always hard, there are no easy races at this level, but after such a positive start it’s a shame that we couldn’t build on it and create some momentum. The guys did their best and I’m proud of how they fought every day and how much we put into showing ourselves in such a big race. That’s part of the inspirational aspect of our team, to be out there sharing our message for everyone around the world affected by diabetes.”

All images ⒸMario Stiehl