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Stephen Clancy – Taking Diabetes to the Professional Level

DisasterAvertedIssue353In his fifth year with Team Novo Nordisk, Stephen Clancy is slated to race his second consecutive Tour of Utah. At last year’s race, Stephen said it was an unforgettable experience racing at arguably the toughest race in the United States. “The mountainous terrain and altitude make it tough, but it was worth the effort,” said Stephen. “It felt different from most races I do, but all in a good way.”

Stephen, who was selected as Cycling Ireland’s ‘Domestic Rider of the Year’ in 2012, earned his career-best finish at a UCI 2.1 race in 2015 when he sprinted to fourth place on Stage 3 of the Tour of China I. For the 24-year-old Irishman who has raced all over the world, Utah serves as the most beautiful place that he’s raced his bike. “It’s almost the opposite to Ireland with the big mountains, dry orange landscape, and high altitude, so it is such an amazing experience.”

Last year counted as Stephen’s first time racing at this altitude, but his love for the bike began nearly a decade ago. After an athletic childhood, Stephen dedicated himself to the bike at age 16. He won his first race — a time trial — and continued to enter and earn results at bigger races. Following a breakout U23* season, he signed with Ireland’s top domestic squad, Dan Morrissey-Speedyspokes. While at a team training camp, routine blood tests indicated abnormal blood sugar levels. After a follow-up test, Stephen was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. In the hospital, a diabetes consultant told him extreme levels of exercise could complicate his diabetes management and make it more difficult to control the condition.

Within 24 hours of being discharged, Stephen discovered Team Novo Nordisk on the web, which motivated him to get back on the bike. Stephen connected with a fellow Irish rider on the Team Novo Nordisk development squad and within six months he signed a contract with the world’s first all-diabetes professional cycling team.

Following last year’s Tour of Utah, Stephen says he feels more confident returning to the 2.HC race. “Ideally, we arrive nearly two weeks early to help acclimatize to the altitude. Last year, it took me about a week to start feeling normal, so hopefully this year I can climb better and will aim for some results and help out my teammates.”

For an Irishman, Stephen stressed that the Tour of Utah is more than just climbing; it also means regular applications of sun cream and many trips back to the team car for fresh bottles and ice bags under the hot Utah sun.

Follow Stephen and the rest of Team Novo Nordisk, the world’s first all-diabetes pro cycling team, at the Tour of Utah when it kicks off in Logan on July 31st.

* U23 refers to the “under 23” division. To compete in U23, an athlete must be between the ages of 18 and 23.

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