Team Type 1's to serve dual purpose in California

by Kirsten Robbins in California

The professional men and women of Team Type 1 united for a ten-day training camp in the California training hot spot, Solvang. The camp allowed the men's squad to huddle before the start of the Tour of California, set to begin in Sacramento on February 14. Being invited to compete alongside the international field brings the squad one step closer to their vision – supporting the first Type 1 diabetic rider in the Tour de France in 2012.

"It's pretty cool and hard to put into words how it feels to be a part of the Tour of California," said team co-founder and professional cyclist Phil Southerland. "To start a race with a line up of riders who are Tour de France champions, world champions and champions of every other race under the sun, is incredible. For me, for our team and for the sponsors who are excited to see this all happen. Hopefully it will be a good launching pad to spread awareness about our program, about diabetes and what it takes to compete at this level."

Team Type 1's goal is to compete in the Tour de France during the 2012 season. According to Southerland, its sponsors are prepared to support the program with funds necessary to get them to where they need to be with in three years. "Being there in 2012 is our goal but who knows, if we progress faster it could be in 2011," Southerland said. "The [makers of the] Lantus and Apidra brands, the insulin that our diabetic riders take, are so passionate about this vision of reaching the Tour de France. We have four riders on the team who are diabetic and we need to step up our game to make that possible."

In the meantime, competing in events like the Tour of California provide the nationally ranked squad with the level of competition they need to improve on the international circuit. "Our sponsors understand the financial requirements and the athletic requirements we need to achieve to get to that level," said co-founder Joe Eldridge, who noted the squad will make their first European debut this season in Spain and Italy. "They understand what we have to do this year to be ready and improve for next year and so on. Each year we need to take a step up so competing in the Tour of California is one of those steps. But we also need to continue adding more experienced riders to our program and attend more international level races."

Team Type 1 supports six professional riders who are diabetic. Southerland and Eldridge along with Australia's Fabio Calabria and Belgium's Willem Van Den Eynde on the men's side and Megan Patton and Monique Hanley on the women's side. Both Southerland and Calabria are scheduled to compete in the upcoming Tour of California along with experienced and decorated cyclists Darren Lill, Matt Wilson and Moises Aldape. The team will announce the remaining three riders soon.

The professional men's team includes Southerland, Eldridge, Calabria and Van den Eynde along with Lill, Aldo Ilesic and Riccardo Escuela. Returning riders include Matt Wilson, Jesse Anthony, Moises Aldape, Ken Hanson, Dan Holt, Chris Jones, Valeriy Kobzarenko, Ian MacGregor and Shawn Milne. The men's team is led by directeur sportif Vassili Davidenko and assistant directeur Gord Fraser. Jack Seehafer will lead the women's eight rider team in the 2009 season. The competitive roster includes Patton and Hanley along with Alison Powers, Kori Seehafer, Jen McRae, Veronica Balderas, Samantha Schneider and Jacquelyn Crowell.

The 2009 program has grown to support 56 athletes in total. Along with the professional men and women programs, additions include Team Type 2 and Team Type 1 RAAM teams, a triathlon team and a development team. "It's a struggling market overall and we've been fortunate enough to have some great sponsors who really believe in us," Eldridge said. "Our team has a different perspective as far as our message. I think our sponsors are getting a lot out of us and that is why we haven't been effected so much. We represent a product that is not like other."

For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Marco Quezada

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