A picture, they say, can be worth a thousand words: Emotive, evocative. A mother stands dutifully in anticipation, one wheel aloft, another by her side, as the peloton thunders across the cobbles and through the woodland springtime of Northern Europe. Wrapped up against the crisp chill and hoping to spot her son in the throng. Ready to save the day in the time honoured manner of those who hold bicycle wheels at roadsides. A capturing of a moment in time by photographer Harry Stukker, aesthetically crafted via the focusing to present a story which transcends merely ‘Bike Race’ yet, sadly, destined never to make it into the race’s press release. I wanted to pursue the words behind the picture; I spoke with Team Novo Nordisk’s Martijn Verschoor and his mum – the lady with the wheel – Jeannette.
“He started with speed skating and inline skating on the track. He got to the level where he was racing in Nationals, but at that point, he lacked experience in managing his diabetes in these short races. He lost his enjoyment in skating when he no longer had the speed in his legs. When he missed qualifying for Nationals, that was basically the end… He had done a lot of cross-training on the bike, he always watched bike races on TV so it wasn’t a big surprise when he decided to start racing at 18. Many people told him he was too old to start cycling, or that he could only do criteriums because of his diabetes. This doubt motivated Martijn to fight harder, manage his diabetes properly and win races. I thought cycling was a good idea, but I didn’t know it could sometimes be dangerous: Pave, rain, descents and sprints… I do get worried when he is in the sprint, so I simply don’t watch. When I hear he didn’t crash, only then do I replay the sprint on the TV!
I am a proud mom when I see him race -I think I’ve helped him twice with a wheel, normally my husband is the one doing wheels – especially when he earns results against the best guys of the world. Martijn has always pushed the limits. He does all of this with diabetes. I like watching the races and seeing his teammates race”
“My mom surprised me with the wheels on the pave this year in Drenthe because normally my dad is there with the spare wheels. At the race this year, they were both on the pave sections, just in different spots. They split up because they wanted to support the whole team throughout the race. That was amazing to see! I think I got a wheel from my mom once, but my memory might not be right. I know for sure I have gotten a wheel from my dad on a pave section in the past. Usually, I take a bottle or musette from my dad and throw any extra clothes to my mom.
It is amazing how supportive my parents have been throughout my entire career. They never pushed me to be a cyclist but have always supported me chasing my dreams. Since racing for Team Novo Nordisk, we only race once a year near Drenthe, so unfortunately, they cannot see me race often. To be honest, I think it might be better for my mom so she won’t worry too much about me in the sprints! She always tells me to be careful. Her biggest worry is that I might crash. Throughout my career, I’ve crashed a couple times really hard and my mom was there for me in the hospital. She’s never told me to stop racing, but I know when I tell her that I am ready to stop, she will not talk me out of it.
She is proud that I am racing with diabetes and thinks we inspire many people. My parents are completely behind me racing with diabetes and what Team Novo Nordisk stands for – I think my parents are really proud of all the riders on our team and are happy with our sponsor, Novo Nordisk. They’ve even helped me create a charity ride in my home region of the Netherlands, so they can share our story with other families”
You can find more information on that charity ride here: www.diabetesclassic.nl
Special thanks to Trevor Mould – give his site a look, well worth it!