Team Novo Nordisk, the world’s first all-diabetes men’s professional cycling team, is racing its second Tour of Utah this week. The team’s goal is to put veteran rider and team leader, Javier Megias back on the podium while also inspiring, educating and empowering people affected by diabetes. Known as America’s toughest stage race, the Tour of Utah race kicks off on August 1st in Zion Canyon Village and takes the riders through various cities in Utah before ending in Park City on Sunday, August 7.
Team Novo Nordisk’s overall race contender Megias earned two podium spots in previous editions of the race. He took third on Stage 1 in 2010 and was runner-up on Stage 4 in 2011.
“Our goal is to get Javi onto the podium during the race. Looking at the race profile, he could surprise us on any stage,” Team Novo Nordisk Senior Vice President of Athletics Vassili Davidenko said. “He’s been on the podium before, but what makes this time different is he is coming into the race with extraordinary form. We hope he adapts to the elevation smoothly and can show his true potential.”
Sixteen teams will contest the UCI 2.HC race, including four World Tour teams. Team Novo Nordisk is returning after a one-year race hiatus and its roster includes Stephen Clancy (IRL), Corentin Cherhal (FRA), Gerd de Keijzer (NED), Javier Megias (ESP), Brian Kamstra (NED) and stagiaire Rik van IJzendoorn (NED). All riders except for Megias are making their Tour of Utah debut.
One rider to note is newcomer Rik van IJzendoorn, who is racing for the first time as part of the Team Novo Nordisk pro squad. The 28-year-old Dutchman grew up in a cycling family; both his brother and father raced professionally. Van IJzendoorn is a two-time Dutch Junior National Champion in both cyclocross and the road. He was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes last year and began the 2016 season racing with Team Novo Nordisk’s development squad, earning three top 10 finishes.
“Rik is coming from a cycling family and has been on a bike since a very early age,” Davidenko said. “We believe he’s a good addition to the team and we see him as an all-around rider.”
While Team Novo Nordisk athletes share many similarities with other riders in the peloton, they have the added layer of managing their diabetes. During a race, the riders check their blood glucose levels consistently to ensure they are in their target range. Team Novo Nordisk also has a full-time medical team, made up of doctors, nurses, dieticians and diabetes educators. In addition to the team’s sports medicine professionals who tend to the standard medical needs of a cycling team, there is always a diabetes care specialist on hand to help the riders during a race.
The 705-mile Tour of Utah will include 52,825 vertical feet (16,101 meters) of climbing, hitting its highest point on Mount Nebo at about 9,000 feet during Stage 3. The race starts with an 84-mile stage, beginning in Zion Canyon Village and featuring two categorized climbs before a downhill descent into Cedar City.
Fans can tune in to watch footage of the race daily on FOX Sports Networks or live online. For more information and broadcast schedules, go to https://www.tourofutah.com/race/tourtracker.
For more information about Team Novo Nordisk, go to www.teamnovonordisk.com.