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“One of the main changes is that our team is able to compete at important races. I feel confident that our riders can compete at any race. When this team was created, many people had questions about whether it would work."


Photo: Team Novo Nordisk / Tim De Waele




08.02.2016 @ 09:00 Posted by Joseph Doherty

Perhaps there is no one better to judge the growth of Team Novo Nordisk that sports director Vassili Davidenko. The Russian ex-pro has been with the team since its inception and he took some time out of his busy schedule at the team’s press day to speak to CyclingQuotes about issues such as making the Tour de France and getting invited to races like Milan-Sanremo and the Tour of Poland.


Davidenko started the interview by saying just how proud he was of the team’s 2015 season, where they took their first win and also featured in the breakaway at their first ever WorldTour race, Milan-Sanremo.


“2015 was a great season. We achieved more top tens than ever before and we earned our first stage win. The guys have also made marked improvements in physiological testing. I think 2015 was a solid year and I feel confident in the growth of this program,” Davidenko told CyclingQuotes exclusively.


Davidenko told CyclongQuotes that 2016 is another big year for the team as they ride their first WorldTour stage race, Tour de Pologne. That will serve as a benchmark for 2017, when the team will start applying for Grand Tours.


“This year is important for us because how we do will give us a better understanding of what the team is capable of in 2017 and when we will be ready for our first Grand Tour. Adding the Tour de Pologne to our schedule this season will also be helpful in terms of gauging the team’s readiness for a Grand Tour race. If the team does well, we’ll continue to increase our goals and if we need to slow down and develop more, then we will do that.”


Focusing on the race in Poland, the 45 year old explained just how strategically important that race is to the team and just what it can mean in the long run.


“The invite to the Tour de Pologne means a lot. The race is our first opportunity to compare our riders against all 18 World Tour teams in a stage race, so strategically it is important.”


As mentioned before, Davidenko has been with Team Novo Nordisk since day one, so there is no one better to describe the changes in the team that have unfolded before his very eyes over the last few years, from just getting the project off the ground to riding WorldTour races.


"When we became Team Novo Nordisk and created this team of athletes with diabetes, it was a huge challenge. We dreamed of what might be possible, but we didn’t exactly know the potential of the team. Now, I can look back over the past three seasons and see an incredible amount of progress. Team Novo Nordisk started ranked about the 140th team in the world and we now are approximately 60th.  I see steady progress and I’m hopeful we’ll only continue to get better.”


“One of the main changes from year one is that our team is able to compete at important races. I feel confident that our riders can compete at any race. When this team was created, many people had questions about whether it would work. Then you look at 2015 and we had a rider in the break at Milan-San Remo and a rider on the podium at the USA Pro Challenge. We earned 36 top tens, which shows the team is going in the right direction.”


Back in September, Team Novo Nordisk manager Phil Southerland first revealed to CyclingQuotes his intention of getting the team to the 2021 Tour de France, the season that marks the 100th anniversary since the creation of insulin. Davidenko spoke about this objective with us.


“The goal is to be at the Tour de France by 2021, which is the 100th year anniversary since the discovery of insulin, and we need to arrive ready to compete. We have made pretty good progress in the past three years and we still have five years to go. To us, it is important to make natural, slow progress. We know if we put too much pressure on the riders, then we could slow down progress. We need to allow our guys the time to recover and develop. It is all about taking things step-by-step and it requires self-discipline and full commitment from everyone within the team. We have a plan in place and we are trying to achieve the goal of the Tour de France by 2021, but we realize a lot of work needs to be done between now and then.”




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