For another take on fueling the professional cyclist, pay attention this year to Atlanta-based Team Type 1-Sanofi, which hosts riders like Spain's Javier Megias (pictured) and Kiel Reijnen of the U.S. Many of them manage diabetes.
According to CEO and team co-founder Phil Southerland, his riders largely eat the same foods as non-diabetic cyclists in competition, but for them, "it's all about blood-sugar management — we have to check, they don't."
If you visit teamtype1.org, you'll find links to such videos as "Managing Blood Glucose for Endurance Training," which walk would-be athletes through the basics of pre-race and periodic race-time testing. Essentially, you take everything that all riders are doing, in terms of gauging electrolyte and carbohydrate intake, and add the chore of monitoring blood-sugar levels, via a glucose meter on the skin that transmits to a readout device.
Some diabetic riders keep the device on the handlebars for easy reference, though Megias tucks his into a jersey pocket so he can check periodically, but otherwise focus on the race. In a 120-mile stage last year, he had to give himself three insulin injections while in the saddle.
But Megias gifted Southerland his favorite moment of last year's Challenge when he "charged into Denver solo as part of a breakaway," proving that "if diabetic athletes are well-controlled, they can compete against the best."
Like all the teams, TT1 wants a stage win this year, or better yet, a podium finish. But it's got an extra incentive, too: "We aren't just racing to race. Every time people see that jersey, they see that we're racing for diabetes," says Southerland. "We inspire kids all around the world when we compete."
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