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’ve 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 was his reward. Ciclissimo! got the inside line each day from Sam throughout his journey through the Hollywood-Western ‘big country’ vistas of America’s mountain belt.
Stage 7: Salt Lake City, 118km
Nippo-Vini Fantini’s Marco Canola caught Caja Rural – Seguros RGA’s constantly race-animating Benito napping and slipped through the inside in a wily yet textbook move on the final corner. Canola had followed Benito’s line-hunting solo foray from the final group that had formed after a typically pacey and attack laden crit’ finale around a rollercoaster of a Salt Lake City circuit. Canola kept the power on up the rise to the line and took the stage win in the State capitol with Rob Britton of Rally Cycling running out deserved GC victor after a staunch defence of the jersey since claiming it at the mid-race TT. Sam crossed the line with the needle pretty much on empty but with a smile on his face, deservedly so also, after a successful pro-race debut in a very testing arena indeed.
Ciclissimo! You just finished your first professional stage race and an incredibly hard one at that. How does it feel?
Sam Brand It feels amazing. I’m very, very happy; that was a tough day.
C! How did the day play out?
SB You could tell early on that it wasn’t going to be easy. There was no just sitting on. It took about three or four laps to start to go easier. I knew I was in it for a whole day of suffering, so I put my head down and ground it out.
C! What was the climb like?
SB Most of the time, it wasn’t neutral, but we started easy and you could go up with the group. As the race went on, it got harder and harder. Once I had noticeably less energy than at the start, it really started to feel harder each time.
C! What were the final few laps like?
SB I was constantly trying to fight to move up, stay in my own rhythm and not let myself get distracted by everyone else. I knew as it got towards the second to the last lap that I had to stay in the group, but I really started to struggle. I got to the start of the final lap and just held on, held on, held on. On the final lap, I started to fall back and couldn’t hold on anymore.
C! You start the Colorado Classic on Thursday. Being able to finish this race—does it give you more confidence than when you started Utah?
SB Absolutely. I’m just on a high that I get to do this as a job. I’m over the moon that I’ve had this opportunity. I’m going into every race with a smile on my face and excited to inspire, educate and empower everyone affected by diabetes!
All Photo Credits: VeloImages