Atlanta, GA — As the world adjusts to COVID-19 life, professional sports are trying to find the safest way to resume their seasons. Team Novo Nordisk kicks off its return at the Tour de Pologne, the team’s only WorldTour race of the year. The five-day event starts in Chorzów on August 5th.
“The last few months have seen professional cycling off for almost five months in the middle of the season, something that’s never happened before,” explained General Manager Vassili Davidenko. “We are going to see a difference at the first races between the riders who spent time in lockdown compared to those who were able to continue training outside as usual.”
Team Novo Nordisk, the world’s first and only all-diabetes professional cycling team, achieved historic success at the race back in 2019 when Frenchman Charles Planet secured the team’s first WorldTour jersey by winning the Most Active Rider classification after taking the jersey on the first stage and holding it until the finish of the race.
Planet returns to the Tour de Pologne heading a strong line-up that screams experience and versatility with Spanish climber David Lozano and Italian sprinter Andrea Peron waiting in the wings for opportunities.
“We certainly performed well at last year’s edition of the Tour de Pologne,” said General Manager Vassili Davidenko. “The whole team did their job and we always strive to perform well. Charles has had a solid preparation for this year’s race, and the hard work has gone according plan at a training camp in Northern Italy. I believe we are ready to restart the season and ride strongly.”
Support for Lozano, Peron, and Planet comes from two-time Hungarian former national champion Peter Kusztor, Manxman 29-year-old Sam Brand, Verona native Umberto Poli, and Dutch diesel engine Brian Kamstra.
“The Tour de Pologne is the only World Tour event on our schedule during this very unusual year,” continued Davidenko. “We are going to start the race with the best roster we have, and everyone will have a chance to perform and support their teammates. One for all and all for one. Just like at any other race – teamwork is key to success.”
After such a long break from racing and full training, how are the riders going to feel coming back to competition…excited? YOU BET!
“I am very excited to be back with the team and do what I love the most—racing my bike,” began Planet. “It’s a very special feeling like you’re going to school for the first time as a kid. It’s very different from February and the first race of the year. It’s been such a long time, and as a lover of competition, I can’t wait to restart the season!”
Coming straight from two weeks training in the Italian Dolomites, the preparation could not have gone better for the team, especially Planet.
“I feel that I did everything I can to be at my best for the two months of racing ahead. Our training camp was very successful and there are no excuses. Everyone is ready. Now it’s all about focusing on the races!”
“We are very happy to come back to Poland. It’s a beautiful race and 2019 was a fantastic time for us around performance. Yet we cannot and will not forget Bjorg Lambrecht. The whole peloton will remember him next week and we ride in his honor.”
As for race strategy, the plan is to work together as a collective unit and go after opportunities as they arise.
“The speed of the race will be different, and the racing will be very aggressive from the start,” said Davidenko. “Due to the Covid-19 situation, we are going to miss our fans at the start and finish, but they can follow our team via TV and social media and we would like to extend a big thanks to the race organizers for putting this race together during such difficult times.”
As for Planet, he is going in feeling confident and ready to test the legs.
“I’m feeling stronger than last year, so it will depend if I focus on breakaways or can manage to get a good result on one specific stage that could suit me well. Either way, we are very excited to be back!”
Team Novo Nordisk at the Tour de Pologne 5th – 9th of August:
Sam Brand (GBR, 29)
Brian Kamstra (NED, 27)
Peter Kusztor (HUN, 35)
David Lozano (ESP, 31)
Andrea Peron (IT, 31)
Charles Planet (FR, 26)
Umberto Poli (IT, 23)
Tour de Pologne stages:
Wednesday 5th August, Stage 1: Stadion Slaski – Spodek, 195.8km
Thursday 6th August, Stage 2: Opole – Zabrze, 151.5km
Friday 7th August, Stage 3: Wadowice – Bielsko-Biala, 203.1km
Saturday 8th August, Stage 4: Bukovina Resort – Bukovina Trtzanska, 152.9km
Sunday 9th August, Stage 5: Zakopane – Krakow, 188km