As the team enters camp a few things are missing and this is discussed with Phil Southerland below and will be addressed on this website in more detail in the coming weeks. One other big change is the teams attitude as they enter a new season. Personally I could see the stress that not only Phil was facing but the team as their contract with Novo Nordisk was up at the end of the 2017 season. Phil is a very intense and hard working individual, the team mirrors his attitude while on the bike. Off the bike however the team and Phil are your normal guys, they like to have fun and enjoy every moment of racing. That was missing last year, personally I can say that although my time with the team has been minimal so far in 2018 I have noticed a difference in the riders as well as Phil. Both look like themselves and the smiles have returned.
The team is still focused on reaching the Tour de France, that will never change. How the team is looking to get their will change a little this season. You may recall that the team raced in some very high profile races in 2017. They will continue with some of the best teams in the world but they will be making sure that the schedule is made so that the riders can excel whenever they get on the bike. This in turn will keep the riders healthier and allow them to ride to the best of their abilities.
Personally I believe the 2018 season will be one that opens a lot of eyes in the cycling world. At many cycling events I still hear that this team will never reach the Tour de France with only riders that are living with diabetes. Based on past performances the people that make these comments are correct, Team Novo Nordisk has proved they can ride with some of the best teams in the world but can't put anyone on the podium. It may sound like an excuse but the worries about a contract took its toll on this team. The team is reborn and enters 2018 with a new attitude, they're ready to show the cycling world that they belong. This team will be on the podium in 2018 and as always they will be seen with fans offering support and proving to the diabetes community that a life with diabetes doesn't mean you can't live your dream.
In cycling, there is always pressure for the podium. It comes from many places--sometimes the sponsor, other times the director, and even the grumpy team boss (as yours truly). Yet 2018 is going to be a little different—we’ve placed a mandate on all the riders that they must have fun.
The pressure for the podium needs to come from within and the guys really need to work as a team, trust each other, and do their absolute best. I’m heading into this year a bit more relaxed than I was last year, particularly because Novo Nordisk renewed their sponsorship, but also because I’m really excited about the 2018 athletes. I am 100 percent certain we will stand on the podium and confident we will reach the top step.
Has the new contract affected the teams development teams or racing schedule in anyway?
We made some changes internally with our structure. Unfortunately, we had to scale down, which meant jobs lost in both the rider and staff departments. I am forever grateful to everyone who has been a part of this program and know that it is because of their work that the pro and devo team still exist.
We were also able to find budget to host at least one Talent ID camp. The Team Type 1 Foundation has now taken over the Junior and Elite programs. So in total, the pipeline remains the same, just a little bit leaner than prior years.
How does the race schedule for the team this year differ from years past?
For 2018, we reduced the race calendar a good bit. We will still be in some high profile races, but we decided we needed to give our athletes more time to recover, train, and prepare for the races throughout the year. Ts is a new approach that our coaching and medical teams believe will be highly beneficial for the performance of the riders.
The team always wants to be on the podium but what races are you looking for the team to make a statement and prove that they can race with the likes of Team Sky, BMC and Team Quick Step?
We are going to take each race one day at a time. We know we can race with the World Tour teams, but I am more focused on controlling what we can control. This means racing to the best of our abilities and leaving it all out on the road. If we do this, then success will come. I want our guys to have fun. I want this to be a year where the team walks into dinner at the races with confidence and smiles on their faces because they executed and achieved those goals.
Team Novo Nordisk is changing diabetes, what changes have you seen in diabetes and those living with diabetes as the team has raced all over the world?
The best way to show this is by looking at our pipeline. Looking at last year’s squad, 12 of the 18 pro riders were told they would never race again because of their diabetes. On the devo squad, six of the 18 riders were told they would never race again because of diabetes.
On the junior squad, all 12 of 12 riders were told they could race a bike even with diabetes.
We have changed the mindset of health care professionals around the world. Now the diabetes community knows that one can compete at the highest level of professional sports with diabetes but we’ve expanded beyond that--the global athletic community recognizes that people with diabetes can compete at the top level.
There are no overnight miracles but step by step and particularly thanks to the partnership with Novo Nordisk, we are changing how the world views diabetes. But there are still a lot of people who have yet to be inspired, so we are driven to keep spreading this mission and providing hope to all the people in the diabetes community who need it!