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“In 2013, my form started to decrease. That is when I was diagnosed with diabetes. I tried to pick my training routine back up and get back into form, but I simply wasn’t able to do it. I thought my career as a professional athl...




24.02.2016 @ 09:00 Posted by Joseph Doherty

There are some stories you just couldn’t make up. While LottoNL-Jumbo’s Primoz Roglic has received a lot of attention for the fact he became a WorldTour pro just a few years after taking up the sport for the first time, Team Novo Nordisk’s Brian Kamstra has got an even more impressive story. Speaking at the team’s winter training camp, he explained his journey to pro cycling to


Kamstra was a more than promising runner but he was diagnosed with diabetes in 2013. He was never able to return to his top level as a runner, but a new sport was just around the corner, one he might be even better at…But first, let Brian tell his fantastic story:


“Before I was involved in cycling, I was a runner and I was one of the best juniors in the Netherlands. I won the national cross country title twice and also was the two-times national indoor champion. I participated in the European Championships in 2011,” Kamstra exclusively told CyclingQuotes. 


“In 2013, my form started to decrease so I sought out medical help. That is when I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. I tried to pick my training routine back up and get back into competition form, but I simply wasn’t able to do it. I thought my career as a professional athlete was over. Little did I know what was about to happen…”


Kamstra says he owes his cycling career to teammate and fellow Dutchman Martijn Verschoor (who’s interview with CyclingQuotes is also online on Monday February 22). Verschoor took Kamstra under his wing and began to train with him.


“My career as a cyclist came about because of my teammate, Martijn Verschoor. He lives in the same area of the Netherlands as I do, only a few kilometers away. When I was first diagnosed, I didn’t have a role model. I didn’t know any athletes competing at the top level with this condition and all of a sudden I found Martijn, a professional athlete who had type 1 diabetes, who was living so close to me,” Kamstra says about how Verschoor helped him.


“In May 2014, I attended Martijn’s charity bike event, the Diabetes Classic. While there, Martijn told me about Team Novo Nordisk, the world’s first all-diabetes pro cycling team, and he invited me to start training with him. “


Verschoor lobbied on Kamstra’s behalf to get him to the team’s end of season camp in 2014. Team founder and CEO Phil Southerland obliged and Kamstra had an in with the team. While he knows this isn’t normal, he seized his chance and was so impressive that he was signed to the team’s development squad straight away.


“In the end of 2014, Martijn and I sent an email to Team Novo Nordisk’s CEO and co-founder Phil Southerland and he invited me to the team’s training camp in Altea, Spain in January 2015. Let me tell you, this isn’t the normal process for joining the team. Riders don’t just bring their friends to camp. There is a standard process that most people follow. I’m not sure anyone really took me seriously or knew exactly what to do with me. While at camp, I did some physiological tests. They were impressed enough with my numbers that they offered me a contract to race with the development team.  As a complete rookie to cycling, I did my first ever race in the US that April at the Joe Martin Stage Race. I really dedicated myself and focused on learning and was able to earn a spot as a stagiaire with the men’s pro team that August and I signed my first pro contract this year.”


Kamstra says the whole experience has been a blur, but he is proud of where he is and wants to inspire others to try and do what he did, not letting his dreams of being a pro athlete be ruined by diabetes. In just under three years, he has gone from never having raced a bike to being a professional.


“The whole experience has been a rush.  Already I have seen so many beautiful places and I am very proud of myself for what I’ve achieved. Not only do I get to race my bike professionally, but I hope to also inspire people affected by diabetes to chase their dreams.”


Kamstra ended by telling CyclingQuotes that he hopes to ride the Ronde van Drenthe, his home race. He has started his pro career well, taking a top fifteen in a sprint against a class field in the Sun Tour. Kamstra is a great example of why you should chase your dreams and never give up, no matter what obstacles you face. CyclingQuotes wishes him all the best in his new career and we hope his story inspires people all around the world to chase their dreams.




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