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Beating Diabetes…My Way

Jun 6, 2017

TNN_2017Since Team Novo Nordisk’s inaugural season in 2013, 30-year-old Romain Gioux has dreamed of racing as part of the world’s first all-diabetes pro cycling team. Diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 15, he raced as an amateur for a French-based Club, but this year serves as his professional debut.

Gioux had an active childhood playing various sports, but at age eight he found his passion for cycling and began to compete. He steadily improved and so began his dream of racing professionally.

As a junior rider, Gioux started experiencing muscle cramps 30 kilometers into a race, which he felt was unusual for his fitness level. Following a blood test, Gioux was diagnosed with diabetes. Immediately, the young Frenchman was determined to show that he could be as strong as the other cyclists. With the overwhelming support of his family, teammates, coaches, and healthcare team, he resumed training.

Throughout his late teens and into his twenties, Gioux juggled his passion for cycling with the realities of getting an education and securing a job, all while managing his diabetes. Following university, he earned a master’s degree in event communications and took a traditional 9 to 5 job in communications. After work, he would jump on his bike and managed to ride 10 to 15 hours a week in addition to his 40-hour work week. After learning about Team Novo Nordisk, Gioux intensified his training and reached out to the team asking them to give him a chance.

Team Novo Nordisk runs two summer talent ID programs where it locates new riders with diabetes for its junior and development teams. From those teams, riders advance to the men’s professional squad. As an adult with a full-time job, Gioux couldn’t take off work and attend camp, but he wasn’t willing to let that be the reason he didn’t achieve his dream of racing professionally with Team Novo Nordisk. Many days he would get up hours before work to train in the morning darkness, work all day, and then be out the same evening until midnight.  Eventually, Gioux’s tenacity and hard work paid off, and he was asked to race with Team Novo Nordisk’s development squad at the Czech Republic’s East Bohémia Tour in late 2016. Based on his performance, he earned his first professional contract for the 2017 season.

The Amgen Tour of California serves as his sixth professional race and already the second World Tour race of his career.

“Last year at this time, I had a real job and sat at a desk. I ran the communications department in my prefecture. I would work full time and then go train. Racing at the Tour of California is a dream for me. Yesterday on the Mount Baldy stage, I finished in the gruppetto. For me, this was a success because I finished the stage and I should now finish the Tour of California, the biggest stage race in America. If you told me this would happen a year ago, I wouldn’t have believed you. I feel I’m an example to show people that they should never give up on their dreams.”

Biographical info and photos from Team Novo Nordisk. To learn more about Romain Gioux and the other members of Team Novo Nordisk, visit their web site.

— Dave Joffe

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