One rider that has allowed me into this special brotherhood has been Sam Brand. Last summer I arrived at the Team Novo Nordisk Talent ID camp and after giving Brais Dacal a big hug and talking with him (I had met Brais in Boston the summer before) this gentleman came over and introduced himself. I figured he was just being nice but he quickly slapped me on the arm said "You're the diabetic cyclist? I love your blog, its so honest, it's great to meet you!!" From that moment I had a feeling Sam was a decent guy. For those next few days Sam and I would pick on one another, crack jokes about the other development team guys and learn about each others past.
In December I had the honor of attending the Team Novo Nordisk team presentation in Atlanta, I knew more team members and felt a part of the brotherhood but once again Sam came running over "Hey Ryan, how's it going?!?!" I said "Hey it's Sam Brand from the Isle of Man, have you turned that into a rap song yet?" The next day I would get to see the team ride, as nice as these guys are off the bike they are monsters on the bike. Seeing an athlete in race mode is incredible, these are normal guys that flick a switch and are the meanest and most determined people I have ever seen.
For the rest of the 2017 season Sam Brand gets to prove his worth with the pro team. His first race will be a week long event in The Tour of Utah. It might not be the biggest race in the world but when it is your first pro race it is. All of the work that Sam has put in pays off this week and as huge fan of Team Novo Nordisk and Sam I will be doing all that I can to watch the stages. I feel like Sam is my brother and will be nervously watching or checking the general classification to see how Sam has done. I was lucky enough to conduct an email with Sam via email before the start of The Tour of Utah. Thanks to Sam for taking the time to answer the questions and a special thank you to the people behind the scenes that made it possible!! Best of luck to Team Novo Nordisk this week!!
It is all a bit of a blur really with everything happening so quickly, but I'm brimming with excitement. This opportunity means the world to me. To race in the professional ranks is a dream come true. I've dreamt of this for an awfully long time and to be able to do it to empower all those around the world affected by diabetes is icing on the cake!
2) Sport has been a part of your life since you were a child, when did you know that cycling was the sport for you?
In all honesty, I'm not exactly sure. My father used to race so I've always been around the cycling scene at home in the Isle of Man. In my teens, I started focusing on other sports and ended up competing in triathlon. I represented Great Britain at the 2013 ITU World Championships. I believe that in life certain doors close while others open. Opportunities arise and we must take advantage of them. At the point in my life when I was finishing university, a fantastic opportunity opened up to change paths from racing triathlon as a member of Team Novo Nordisk’s elite squad to join the development team. I knew then that cycling was what I wanted to do, and I dedicated everything I had to this opportunity.
3) How has Team Novo Nordisk helped you as a cyclist living with diabetes? How has the team helped you personally?
The team has helped me immensely. I've been welcomed into something that is more than a community; it’s a family. Team Novo Nordisk has given me the chance to empower, educate and inspire others affected by diabetes and by doing so has given me the ability to empower myself.
4) For a ten year old child living with diabetes that dreams of being in your position, what words of advice can you give them?
I often tell a story about my cousin being diagnosed. My mum, aunt, and cousin called to tell me and my immediate response was, "It's going to be ok. It's the greatest thing to ever happen to me". When I tell this story, my answer is usually met with a pause and a puzzled look, so let me explain. At 10 years old, I was diagnosed with a life changing condition. I didn’t ask for it but it was there and I had the option to embrace it. I learnt routine and gained maturity at such a young age, one that I frequently notice my peers didn’t learn until they were in their late teens or beyond. It gave me a tool to study myself. If I met a 10-year-old in my situation, I'd tell them that obstacles are there so you can figure them out. Work hard, dream big and stay true to yourself.
5) The Isle of Man produced one of the best sprinters ever in Mark Cavendish, has he been a role model for you? If so what would it be like to be bumping elbows with him in a race?
It is fantastic to see great achievements spawned from our little rock in the Irish Sea. I think everyone at home takes pride in seeing a fellow Manxman achieving great things. As an avid cycling family, we would watch the Tour de France every year and would cheer on Cav. I had the privilege of racing Mark in the British Championships this year on our shared home soil of the Isle of Man. It would be great to be able to bump arms with him again, hopefully at the Tour in 2021, if not before.
6). What should your fans expect to see from you for the rest of the season?
Not much has been decided yet; at present, I will race the Tour of Utah and the Colorado Classic. People can expect to see me give my all whilst racing to empower, educate and inspire others affected by diabetes.