Team Novo Nordisk’s Sam Brand is making his men’s professional team debut at this year’s Tour of Utah. The Isle of Man native has been called up to race as a stagiaire, which stands for intern in cycling lingo, for the remainder of the 2017 season with the ultimate goal of earning a pro contract for next year.
“Being called up to race with the Tour of Utah means the world to me. Getting to race in the professional ranks is a dream come true,” Sam said. “I’ve dreamt of this for an awfully long time and to be able to do it to inspire, educate, and empower all those around the world affected by diabetes is icing on the cake!”
While Sam is eager to tackle the UCI 2.HC race, he comprehends that it is known as America’s Toughest Stage Race complete with high altitudes, unrelenting climbs, and potentially sweltering heat.
“I’ve never raced in Utah and never at altitude. It will be interesting for me to see how it translates for someone who was born, raised and nearly always races at sea level,” Sam said. “I usually handle heat okay and I recognize that staying hydrated and arriving well-prepared goes a long way. It’s the altitude that’s the biggest unknown for me.”
While Sam is making his pro peloton debut, he isn’t new to competition. Diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 10, Sam says that his diagnosis had no negative impact on his childhood and is grateful for how his family and surrounding community handled the adjustment.
Throughout high school, the Isle of Man native competed in a variety of sports. His father competed for Great Britain at the triathlon age group level, so Sam soon started competing in local triathlons. It wasn’t until his first year at university that he took the sport seriously. He quickly excelled and within a year found himself representing Great Britain at the 2013 ITU World Championships, which attracted the attention of Team Novo Nordisk, the world’s first all-diabetes pro cycling team. Sam joined the elite triathlon team the following season. In 2014, he finished 12th in his age group at the Nottingham Triathlon, a World Championship qualifier.
By 2015 and after graduating from university, Sam decided to focus exclusively on cycling and moved over to Team Novo Nordisk’s development squad for the 2016 season. Now after a year and a half of complete dedication to racing and training, Sam is getting the opportunity to race at the professional level. It’s a situation that both humbles and motivates him to keep achieving his goals.
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