Ciclissimo! is back on the road with Team Novo Nordisk, the world’s first all-diabetes pro cycling team, at the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah. Aside from having the most Euro kit in the pro-peloton and the kind of positive, empowering ethos that we like around these parts, they also have a brand new kid on the block in the shape of 25 year old Isle of Man native, Sam Brand. Sam had been making waves – most probably in the swim leg – on the National and European triathlon circuit (ignore my flippancy, silver in the 2015 British Championships is no joke) before switching solely to cycling for 2016. Already on the TNN radar after his strong tri’ results, Sam secured himself a place on their development squad and continued to impress. A mid-season call up to a hard fought, seven-day stage race debut with the Team Novo Nordisk full pro-squad is his reward and baptism of fire at the sharp end of bike racing. Ciclissimo! will be following Sam first-hand on this journey. From the little I’ve got to know so far, he’ll be racing with his characteristic positive enthusiasm for both the competition at hand and the opportunity to inspire, educate and empower people affected by diabetes… First thing I had to do, however, was grab a map to find out just where Utah is: Ok, It borders Wyoming, Arizona, Idaho – all pretty much my mind’s-eye image of endless, pan flat cinematic prairie & desert vistas. Then I checked the race profile. I was wrong. This is true wild-west, John Wayne ‘big country’ at its mountainous, breath-taking best. Flat roads? Let me tell ya, Utah’s ain’t…
Stage 1: Logan-Logan, 215km
The 2400m Logan Canyon marked the gateway & exit to a charge around the azzure expanse of Bear Lake. The climbs duly un-stitched the peloton into fragmented clumps and the 50km swoop down from the sky into host town Logan delivered two blistering crit’ circuits that resembled a 5km bunch sprint! Tyler Magner took the honours by a deep-section rim width for Holowesko/Citadel Racing P/B Hincapie Sportswear to much bar banging from those in his wake. Sam rolled in safely in the trailing field with team-mate and the day’s officially declared (after public online vote) ‘Fan Favourite’, Steven Clancy!
“Ecstatic; I’m glad to have one day under my belt. It was nice to test the legs and I’m looking forward to another day – I’m so happy to be here and know what a great opportunity this is for me to prove myself. I’m taking this whole race day-by-day. Before the start I was a bit nervous and sometimes nerves get the best of me, so I was a bit worried about that. I took a step back and reminded myself that I know I can do it and calmed myself down by focusing on the race.
You notice a difference in the peloton between the development races and this, a UCI 2.HC race: The organization within the race itself was definitely different. You can tell the progression of the race. In the devo team, it is much more full gas, all day. Here it is constantly hard, but it’s more manageable with people knowing when to take water and food, which means you can read it a bit more.
The first climb was the defining moment of the day. We’ve had some time to acclimatize to the altitude but it was the first time I’ve raced here, so I didn’t know how it’d go or how my legs would feel. As soon as it started, I focused on staying in my rhythm. To be honest, it was over before I really had a chance to think about it, which was nice! Coming back up off the lake was really tough…
The switch to road racing from triathlon has meant I’ve had to learn how to descend – and today had some really big descents! I felt fine on them. This isn’t anything new, so now I use these opportunities to learn and improve my technique”