The 2021 season may be ending with Team Novo Nordisk’s final race at the Tour of Croatia next week, but as one chapter closes another begins with Italian Filippo Ridolfo set to join Devo teammate Robbe Ceurens as a stagiaire and offer a glimpse into the future of the worlds’ first all diabetes professional cycling team.
The 19-year-old Italian from Udine has enjoyed a stellar season racing for the TNN development team, including back-to-back top ten stage results at the Five Rings of Moscow and consistent top 20 finishes at Travers les Hauts de France, Tour of South Boheme and the Tour of Bulgaria. Earning his chance to race with the senior professionals before the curtain falls on the 2021 season.
“I can’t believe it,” said Ridolfo. “There’s so much competition from my teammates in the devo team, so to be here, set to race with the professionals at the Tour of Croatia is incredible and I’m very proud to be offered this opportunity. I will try to honor it as best I can. I’m super motivated for it.”
A strong Italian contingent will be at the fore in Croatia to help guide Ridolfo with the experienced and in from Andrea Peron set to lead the team and Veronese rouleur Umberto Poli also in tow alongside classy Spanish climber David Lozano.
“It’s always quite strange saying it, no matter how many years go by,” began General Manager Vassili Davidenko. “But the last race of the season is here, and it always holds some kind of special significance, like one page turning. We’ve come through another year and made our mark, changing diabetes and carrying our message wherever we go.”
“But 2021 was special, 100 years since the discovery of insulin and we wanted to do two things. Get in the breakaway at Milan-Sanremo and we wanted to win. I’m proud to say we did it. Charles Planet and Andrea Peron led the break at Milan-Sanremo for over 200km and Joonas Henttala soloed to victory at the Finnish National Championships in his TNN jersey giving us all a victory to remember and our first national champions jersey.
“Now we’re here preparing for CRO-Race and looking to the future by giving an opportunity to another of our younger riders coming through from the development team, Filippo Ridolfo. Filippo has had a very positive season so far and he deserves his chance, but as we know from past experience this is a hard race and we want to finish on a high note. It will be important to for us to not switch off and remember that the season ends at the finish line in Zagreb. Not before.”
British stalwart Sam Brand will lead the supporting cast alongside Kiwi Hamish Beadle and French sprinter Mehdi Benhamouda completing the team.
“To be racing with these guys is a dream come true,” concluded Ridolfo. “I think it’s every child’s dream when they start riding a bike, and it was mine too, so now it’s coming true and I want to keep dreaming.”
“It’s an objective that we give ourselves and I want to give my all in Croatia in whatever role I’m tasked with and utilize everything I’ve learnt with the development team to help the team achieve the best results.”
The 2021 edition will cover over 1,000km in six stages, making it one of the most testing ‘less than a week’ stage races on the calendar. Crossing the country east to west from Osijek in the region of Slavonia to the final stage in the capital, Zagreb.
Team Novo Nordisk at CRO-Race, 28th September – 3rd October:
Hamish Beadle (NZL, 23)
Mehdi Benhamouda (FR, 26)
Sam Brand (GBR, 30)
David Lozano (ESP, 32)
Andrea Peron (IT, 32)
Umberto Poli (IT, 25)
Filippo Ridolfo (IT, 19)
Tuesday 28th September, Stage1: Osijek – Varaždin, 237km
Wednesday 29th September, Stage 2: Slunj – Otočac, 187km
Thursday 30th September, Stage 3: Primošten – Makarska, 167km
Friday 1st October, Stage 4: Zadar – Crikvenica, 197km
Saturday 2nd October, Stage 5: Rabac/Labin – Opatija, 137.5km
Sunday 3rd October, Stage 6: Samobor – Zagreb, 156.5km