Phil Southerland Interview: Team Type 1 on course to move up to Pro Continental level
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Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Phil Southerland Interview: Team Type 1 on course to move up to Pro Continental level

by Ed Hood at 7:51 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
Team founder wants squad to ride Giro in 2011 and Tour in 2012

Phil SoutherlandThe UCI’s publication of the list of teams applying for ProTour and Pro Continental registration was issued on Tuesday, and there were several notable omissions. Of the ProTeams, Astana and the new Australian team run by Pegasus Racing were conspicuous by their absence. At the Pro Continental level, the Bretagne Schuller squad and Team Type 1 were also not included on the list. The UCI later confirmed that October 1st was the first deadline, and that applications would be accepted after that date.

Team Type 1 founder Phil Southerland has confirmed to VeloNation that there are no problems with the application, save for a delayed bank guarantee. He said that the team is on course to pursue a Pro Continental rating and doesn’t envisage any problems with that.

“We have been held up by the banking system here. All documents are in, and bank guarantee will be in UCI's hands by Friday at the latest. We are extremely frustrated with the way our bank treated us, and will be shopping for a new one,” he stated on Tuesday.

“We have taken care of everything, and expect our names to be on the list this time next week.”

Although October 1st is presumed to be the final deadline for applications, it turns out that is not strictly the case. As a result, the team’s future does not appear to be in question. “October first was the deadline to submit the complete files to the UCI, both for ProTeam and ProConti squads,” said UCI spokesman Enrico Carpani. “This step was set in order to give the riders the chance to get free from their contract (until 31st October) with teams missing on this first list without paying any penalties. However, teams which were not complying with all requirements at October 1st can still fulfil the application and get their licence.”

Southerland founded the team in time for the 2008 season, with the primary goals being to feature riders with Type 1 diabetes, to show it is possible to race with the condition, and also to raise awareness. He has been successful in those aims and now he wants to go global, listing participation in the 2011 Giro d’Italia and the 2012 Tour de France as big targets for the team. The riders will also participate in other races in Europe.

VeloNation spoke to team founder Southerland about those plans.


VeloNation: What was the motivation behind starting a pro team, Phil?

Phil Southerland: I didn't start out with the idea of having a pro team - it all stems from the Race Across America. I organised and competed with a team which finished second.

Phil SoutherlandI don't like to lose, so we adjusted our diabetes care and came back the following year to win. We had so much positive feedback from that result that I knew we had to take it further.

After that race - and maybe it was the champagne or the fact that I hadn't slept for 27 hours - I announced that we were going to start a pro team for 2008 with the ambition of competing in the Tour de France by 2012 with the Giro as a stepping stone in 2011.

VN: What does having Type 1 diabetes mean to someone?

PS: Every step you take and every calorie you consume has an impact on your blood sugar. If your blood sugar is in the right range, there's no problem but if it's too high or too low then there will be problems.

You have to be stringent - 'check and correct' is the motto but it puts an individual under stress. You have to start to prepare for a race three hours before, it's a challenge. It's about practice making perfect - mistakes and learning from them.

VN: Do all of the guys on the team have Type 1 diabetes?

PS: No, for 2011 we'll have six athletes on the team with the condition but we'll have eight on our development squad.

VN: You've recruited Swiss time trial champion Rubens Bertogliati - does this signal a Euro programme?

PS: Absolutely. We'll have a base and a programme in Europe, that's why we recruited Rubens and also Alexander Efimkin to assist in taking us to Pro Continental level.

VN: Have the UCI been helpful?

PS: They've been very helpful but it’s a challenging process. There are maybe 20 steps more involved than there are in organising a Continental team. We've had six people working full time on this project for three months, ensuring we have all the details sorted out.

We're fortunate too that our main sponsor - Sanofi Aventis which is a Swiss drugs company - understand what it's like to work to stringent standards. Their products all have to pass tests by government agencies and they've been great at ensuring all our monies are in place.

VN: Aventis make drugs for diabetes sufferers, presumably?

PS: I have Type 1 diabetes and I don't suffer from it - I thrive! We work with Aventis's top researchers about what we need to succeed. They look at it from a 360 degree perspective - education, nutrition, exercise. You have to remember that this is a condition which never goes away.

VN: Is race food a tricky issue for riders with type 1?

PS: Nutrition is certainly very important; we've been using Hammer Gels with success. It's best if all the athletes on the team can use the same stuff.

VN: What's it like for non-diabetics on the team?

PS: It's an exciting team to be on because you're riding to inspire kids to prevent the effects of a horrible disease, which, if you don't control it properly, you will die.

When I met Rubens for the first time it was at a presentation I was making to the Aventis Swiss sales force - it helped to establish a good bond from the start.

But for all that, you have to remember that last place doesn't get the message out - winning the King of the Mountains in the Tour of California like our Thomas Rabou (Netherlands) did, that gets it out.

VN: What does the 'strive for 6.5' on your website and paperwork refer to?

PS: It's a measure of control (A1C) of your blood glucose over the last three months. If you have that level then you race better. We'll be riding the Tour of Rwanda in November and six of our riders have a 100 Euro bet on with each other about who'll have the best A1C.

VN: Pro Continental teams have to rely on invites, it's hard to frame a programme…

PS: The way to guarantee entries is by having a strong roster, good management and turn out like a Pro Tour team - the team strips, cars, bus, trucks. We want to be Pro Tour in 2012 and we think we'll get there.

And we want to walk away with something from every race - we took King of the Mountains in the Tour of California and Aldo Ilesic (Slovenia) has won stages in Morocco, Mexico and Rio de Janeiro, this season.
Aldo had a very successful 2009 in criteriums but for 2010 we told him that we needed wins in international stage races - he lost six kilos over the winter and got us those wins.

VN: What are your goals for the team for 2011?

PS: We want to be competitive in major races and to ride the Giro. We spoke to Angelo Zomegnan in April and he told us about the challenges that we face to get the ride. Two weeks later we visited the Giro; it's a beautiful race - we need to ride it to get our message out to the world. We met Angelo for dinner again after the Tour; but we won't get an invite until we get to the standard required.

We have riders on the team with type 1 diabetes who can develop into riders to tackle the Giro; take Javier Megias (Spain) he can get over the mountains and still has a vicious sprint at the end.

We want to race in France, Russia, Australia - but we really want a Grand Tour and the Giro is the goal. Then, it’s the Tour in 2012.

We want to impact on kids world wide, let them see that if they do the checks, take their insulin and exercise, that then they too can dream about riding the Tour de France.

Maybe there's a kid in Rwanda right now who could ride the Tour one day?


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