Image: ©Team Novo Nordisk
Team Novo Nordisk, the world’s first all-diabetes professional cycling team, is bringing up two of its best development riders, Frenchman Quentin Valognes and Dutchman Rik van IJzendoorn, onto the men’s pro squad as stagiaires for the remainder of the 2016 season. Van IJzendoorn is slated to make his professional debut at the Tour of Utah, which begins today.
“Team Novo Nordisk is a unique team made up exclusively of cyclists with diabetes, so gaining two strong and talented riders is exciting for us,” Team Novo Nordisk General Manager Vassili Davidenko said. “Quentin grew up in our development program over the past several years, starting on the junior squad. He is pure talent and he can definitely win. Now the focus will be on helping him adapt to the pro level.”
Valognes was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when he was just six years old, but it didn’t stop him from chasing his dream of racing his bike. By age 12, he was competing and quickly grew into a strong sprinter on the track. In his four years with Team Novo Nordisk’s development team, the 20-year-old Frenchman earned a list of accolades, including winning Stage 5 and Stage 6 of the Tour de l’Abitibi Desjardins (2014) and a podium at the French National Keirin Championship (2014).
“It’s an honor to be selected, but I’m aware that I still need to earn my spot on the professional squad. I know this is just the beginning,” Valognes said. “I embrace my diabetes and I’m excited to have an even bigger platform to inspire, educate and empower people affected by the condition.”
Newcomer van IJzendoorn was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes within the past year, but his history on the bike is much lengthier. Van IJzendoorn comes from a racing family and was competing by age eight. Since then, he has amassed several achievements, including Dutch Junior National Cyclo-cross Champion (1997), Dutch Junior National Road Champion (1999), runner-up at Dutch Junior National Cyclo-cross Championship (2004) and third place at the UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup race in Pijnacker (2004).
“Rik has extensive experience in cyclocross and has transitioned over to the road in recent years. He fully understands the pro peloton and is very motivated to be successful on the road,” Davidenko said. “He has a strong cycling background and at 28-years-old, he also brings depth and experience to our team.”
Van IJzendoorn started the 2016 season as a new member on Team Novo Nordisk’s development squad where he earned top 10 finishes at the Healthy Newton Omnium, Jonathan Thompson Memorial Mt. Victory Road Race and the Three River Rumble Road Race.
“I’m very happy to have this opportunity to race at the professional level; it will be a whole new experience for me racing against UCI WorldTour riders,” Van IJzendoorn said. “Team Novo Nordisk has helped make my dream of racing against the best in the world come true. I’m fully focused on working for the team throughout the remainder of the season and hope to earn a contract for next season.”
Van IJzendoorn begins racing today at the Tour of Utah, where his goals are to protect teammate Javier Megias, while Valognes is slated to make his pro debut later this season in Asia. The team will look to him to be competitive and help his fellow sprinters.