Stagiaire! In The Middle Of America: Team Novo Nordisk’s Sam Brand At The Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah

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. We’ll be following the fortunes of  their new stagiaire, 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 mountainous stage race debut with the Team Novo Nordisk full pro-squad is his reward. Ciclissimo! will be following Sam first-hand on this journey through the Hollywood-Western ‘big country’ vistas of America’s mountain belt.

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Stage 2: Brigham City – Snowbasin Resort, 152km

The Tour of Utah does not meander slowly towards a crescendo: Stage 1’s sapping profile and sprint finish ballistics were followed up by stage 2’s saw-tooth mountain slog through the fantastically named Sardine Canyon, culminating with a mountain resort finish at Snowbasin – a 9km uphill TT is the charming completion to the opening 3 days on stage three 3… Stage 2 saw WorldTour squad BMC start to flex their fingers around the throat of the race with numerous salvos from Joey Rosskopf and a stage win from the highly fancied Brent Bookwalter. We caught up with Sam atop Snowbasin after he rolled in with team-mate and ‘Fan Favourite’ blue jersey wearer Steven Clancy , to get his thoughts on the vertiginous dust-up so far…

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Ciclissimo! Today was a summit finish and a very tough looking day in the race bible. Was it easier or harder than you expected?

Sam Brand “I don’t know actually. It was easier in some terms and harder in others. It went straight from the gun full gas up the first climb. We had driven the climb on the way into the start and we knew it was steep but it seemed steeper. It settled down after that. I knew the third climb would be a decisive one. I aimed to hold on and found myself in the second group, which quickly grew in numbers. It was nice to find my feet and get my rhythm back on the descent.

C! Was Stage 2 the steepest and fastest day you’ve done to this point in your career?

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SB This was definitely the most challenging stage with the terrain and the altitude. A hill is a hill, but approaching that steepness at that pace made it so much harder. Today never let up.

C! You are the first stagiaire for Team Novo Nordisk to make it past Stage 2 of the Tour of Utah, America’s Toughest Stage Race. Getting through a long opening stage and a summit finish second stage, how has it built your confidence?

SB It’s fantastic. I’m taking it a day at a time, but it’s nice to know that I can ride with these guys. I thought I could before but until you do it, you never know. It’s nice to see that I can compete and I’m building confidence every day.

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C! You come from a triathlon background so you have a lot of time trial experience. What are your thoughts on tomorrow’s race against the clock?

SB I’ve done one uphill time trial at home before and it wasn’t the greatest memory. It is full gas and there is nowhere to hide. I like being on my own and finding my own rhythm. I’m hoping I can do pretty well tomorrow. I’m setting my sights high and going for it.  I’m eager to show people that I’m not just here to race, but that I’m here to do well.

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All Photo Credits: VeloImages