The world’s first all-diabetes pro cycling team brings in an Olympian and advances four riders from its development squad while adding changes to its GSG-designed jersey
Team Novo Nordisk, the world’s first all-diabetes pro cycling team, will race its seventh season with 16 athletes from a dozen countries. The five new riders joining the team include Olympian and three-time former Hungarian national champion Peter Kusztor (HUN), Oliver Behringer (SUI), Declan Irvine (AUS), Sam Munday (AUS) and Ulugbek Saidov (UZB). Both Behringer and Irvine raced as stagiaires with the men’s professional team during the 2018 season.
“I want to say a big thanks and congratulations to the 2018 squad. We had one victory, seven podiums, and 11 top five finishes, which are the most in Team Novo Nordisk’s six-year history. This success was the combined result of confidence and teamwork,” Team Novo Nordisk’s CEO and Co-Founder Phil Southerland said. “Looking to 2019, I’m confident this trend will continue, and the addition of four development riders and veteran pro Peter Kusztor will serve as tremendous boosts for the team.”
All athletes on Team Novo Nordisk race with type 1 diabetes. Since its launch in December 2012, the organization has focused heavily on identifying and developing endurance athletes from around the world with diabetes, which has lead to an extensive junior and development program where riders have the opportunity to advance to the men’s professional team.
“Since our inception, we’ve set high standards for this program. To maintain this momentum, it is critical to move up this young generation of talented athletes with diabetes to the professional team,” Team Novo Nordisk Senior Vice President of Athletics Vassili Davidenko said. “Our entire project is designed to provide them with as many opportunities as possible to succeed. We consciously blend our race rosters, so the neo-pros race alongside experienced veterans. This keeps motivation and moral high because the young riders are so eager to learn. Additionally, it provides all our riders with direction so they can continue to progress in a step-by-step manner.”
Four of Team Novo Nordisk’s five new athletes are products of its development program. Behringer, Irvine, Munday, and Saidov all spent at least two seasons racing as a part of the team’s development pipeline. Saidov is Team Novo Nordisk’s first professional rider from Central Asia.
For the first time in its history, Team Novo Nordisk is adding a new rider to its professional roster from outside of its development pipeline. Kusztor was recently diagnosed with type 1 diabetes after breaking his collarbone at the Czech Cycling Tour (August 2018). Before going in for surgery, doctors checked his fasting blood glucose levels and discovered they were elevated. Eventually, endocrinologists ran a series of tests and diagnosed the 33-year-old with type 1 diagnosis. Accolades over his 14-year career include representing Hungary at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, two-time Hungary national road race champion (2010, 2012), Hungary national time trial champion (2010), winner overall at the Tour of Bretagne (2011), second overall at Gemenc GP (2017) and lining up for four UCI Road World Championships (2008, 2009, 2012, 2013).
“Our returning riders have another season of racing in the pro peloton and our stagiaires impressed me these past few races. They showed significant improvements by the end of the year,” Davidenko said. “We have big expectations in Kusztor and are proud to add him to our roster. I expect the entire project will be stronger in 2019.”
Team Novo Nordisk’s new 2019 GSG-designed jersey will feature repeating white text with the words ‘inspire, educate and empower’ down the torso below a light blue circle that serves as the global symbol for diabetes awareness. The navy blue jersey will continue to feature the words “Changing Diabetes” across the chest. The 2019 changes will continue to bring awareness to Team Novo Nordisk’s mission to inspire, educate and empower everyone affected by diabetes.
“We are going into 2019 hungry for success. We just finished a pre-season training camp, and our riders’ fitness is ahead of schedule compared to 2017,” Southerland said. “I trust that our riders, coaches and medical staff will continue to build on this foundation and this growth with translate into success on the road, which allows us to have an even greater impact alongside Novo Nordisk to continue changing diabetes around the world.”
The 2018 season saw Team Novo Nordisk achieve its best results to date, including 11 top five finishes and seven podium appearances. David Lozano (ESP) earned the team’s second victory when he soloed to win Stage 7 of the Tour du Rwanda. The Spaniard had a standout season that saw him collect 10 top 10 finishes including fifth overall at the Tour of Estonia, fifth overall at the Tour du Rwanda and the KOM jersey following Stage 3 of the Vuelta Aragon. Frenchman Quentin Valognes, who now functions as an ambassador for the team, took home the Intermediate Sprint Jersey at the Dubai Tour while fellow Frenchman Charles Planet earned the Fighter’s Jersey on Stage 3 of the PostNord Danmark Rundt and wore the Sprint leader’s jersey on Stage 1 of the Tour of Hongrie. Planet also stood on the podium after finishing runner-up on the Tour of Hongrie Prologue.
“Looking towards 2019, our focus continues to be on developing our riders, so that they can be competitive at the top level of the sport. We do this by racing in many countries and at various levels all with the aim to provide hope and inspiration for everyone affected by diabetes,” Davidenko said.
Team Novo Nordisk’s full 2019 roster includes:
- Oliver Behringer – SUI
- Mehdi Benhamouda – FRA
- Sam Brand – GBR
- Fabio Calabria – AUS
- Stephen Clancy – IRL
- Joonas Henttala – FIN
- Declan Irvine – AUS
- Brian Kamstra – NED
- Peter Kusztor – HUN
- David Lozano – ESP
- Emanuel Mini – ARG
- Sam Munday – AUS
- Andrea Peron – ITA
- Charles Planet – FRA
- Umberto Poli – ITA
- Ulugbek Saidov – UZB