The North American peloton has undergone major changes for the 2008 season. After losing two key teams, Navigators and Kodak Gallery-Sierra Nevada and seeing Team Slipstream bring in more ProTour riders at the expense of slots of domestic riders, the job market has been a difficult place for riders seeking contracts. However, quietly in the corner, a new professional team was coming together: Team Type 1. Cyclingnews' Mark Zalewski discovers the unique paradigm which the new squad is based upon.
Team Type 1 is the newest entrant to the North American UCI ranks. Under the guidance of two veteran managers, Ed Beamon, formerly of the Navigators, and Tom Schuler, who has a long history of team management, from running the Colavita men's and women's teams last year going back to the Saturn dynasty, the team is quickly taking shape.
But what exactly is Team Type 1? In a bit of a departure from the normal product sponsor model, the team is named not for a product but for a cause: Type 1 diabetes, which several of its riders have lived with since childhood. The team is funded by pharmaceutical sponsors who make insulin and other products to help diabetics cope with their disease, but its mission is not primarily to help sell those products but to sell a lifestyle.
"Our goal is to inspire people with diabetes around the world to take control of their health through diet, exercise and proper health care," said team co-founder Phil Southerland, a type 1 diabetic since he was seven months old. "As a professional team, racing against the world's best cyclists, we'll be able to deliver that message to a much wider audience."