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Team Novo Nordisk looking to bounce back from lost season: ‘We want to get back to having fun’

Team boss hopes new signings and fresh wind will see the US-registered all-diabetic team back on track in 2022.

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They say it’s good to be ambitious when you set New Year’s resolutions, and Team Novo Nordisk is doing just that.

America’s all-diabetic team is promising itself it will score some success, have some fun, and keep inspiring sufferers of the condition next year. It would all make for the perfect hangover cure after a difficult 2021.

“We just want to get back to having fun. This year was a tough year for us from a result standpoint,” team co-founder and CEO Phil Southerland told VeloNews.

“We want to get back to being an active team in the breakaways and getting some results here and there to continue building the confidence in the organization. We want to continue to be the reason that kids with diabetes believe they can achieve whatever they dream.”

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The past season didn’t go the way Southerland and his pro continental team would have liked. Top rider Charles Planet lost half the season to illness while the rest of the squad struggled for racing.

“Our leader, Charles, got COVID twice and had some lung dysfunction that’s taken the entire year to get him back to speed,” Southerland said in a call this week. “Charles is a big part of the lifeblood of the organization, so his absence kind of left a void in leadership or us.”

Andrea Peron and David Lozano stepped up to fill the gap left by the ailing Frenchman, and Peron closed the team’s season on a high point with eighth in the final stage of the Cro Race.

Southerland has room for optimism heading toward 2022.

Four new riders – three fresh out of the team’s development program and one plucked from a talent I.D. camp – will see Novo Nordisk bring fresh options to the new season.

Czech ace Matyáš Kopecký – signed straight from the junior ranks this week – could be Novo Nordisk’s “next big thing.”

As a double national champion and dominant force on the youth scene, Southerland and his staff are hoping to transform 18-year-old Kopecký’s raw multi-discipline talent into road racing gold.

“We’ve got some fresh blood who are really excited to come in and prove what they’ve got,” Southerland said. “One is a super talent – Matyáš. He lives in the Netherlands, but his citizenship is Czech Republic. And he’s a real super talent, 18th at the junior world championships, arguably the best junior we’ve ever brought in the program.”

Team Novo Nordisk has already secured invites to three leading WorldTour races for 2022, but the 2.Pro Tour of Denmark will be top priority as the home of the diabetes-focused pharma company that backs the squad.

However, for Southerland, the biggest objective remains simply having the team’s blue and yellow jersey out in the peloton, no matter what level the race.

“This team is the greatest global source of open inspiration for people with diabetes,” Southerland said. “I want the boys to have fun because when they have fun, they race well. And when they race well, they change the world, one person at a time.”