Showing that diabetes is no barrier to demanding athletic sports, Team Novo Nordisk is a professional cycling team in which all its members have type 1 diabetes.
The Tour of Britain is Britain’s premier professional cycling event. 20 teams, including Team Novo Nordisk, will take place in the tour, which involves 8 days of racing. Two of the stages cover over 200 km (125 miles) and can involve up to 6 hours in the saddle.
This unique and inspirational cycling team, formerly known as Team Type 1, was founded in 2005 by two competitive cyclists with type 1 diabetes, Phil Southerland and Joe Eldridge. Phil Southerland is CEO of the team whilst Joe Eldridge continues to be a core rider in the team.
Team Novo Nordisk’s professional team has 18 riders all with type 1 diabetes and hailing from a variety of countries and continents. Type 1 diabetes requires insulin administration and a high amount of care taken to ensure blood glucose levels do not go too low or high whilst competing.
Each of the riders use a continuous glucose monitor to keep track of their blood sugar levels whilst they race but even with state of the art technology, controlling blood glucose levels is by no means straight forward. Whereas riders without diabetes just need to ensure they get enough nutrition to remain competitive, members of Team Novo Nordisk need to balance their nutrition intake with how much insulin they are running on.
Some of the riders need to find time to take 3 to 4 insulin injections per race. Having sufficient insulin is important for the riders as without enough insulin, the muscles cannot access glucose for fuel from the blood, which can therefore affect performance. Even though injections can lose time in the short term, by the end of the race, through taking injections, the riders can remain just as competitive as the non-diabetic members of the other teams.

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