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13 December 2017

Movers & Shakers

Meet Pierre-Louis Vérot, diabetes advocate and professional cyclist in the making

PLverotBack in April, Pierre-Louis wouldn’t have imagined that by end of September he would have biked 2,100 km from Brussels to Barcelona in just 13 days.

Diagnosed with diabetes at the age of 10, Pierre-Louis, now 21, first heard about the mHealth Grand Tour bike ride from Brussels to Barcelona through Kyle Jacques Rose, himself a former professional cyclist living with diabetes and former member of Team Type 1, whom Pierre-Louis had met a few years ago at a meeting of his local diabetes association.

“Kyle talked to me about the bike ride. He then introduced me to the organisers and to Team Blood Glucose, a non-for-profit group of amateur athletes with diabetes. Their aim is to raise awareness and educate about the benefits of physical activity for diabetes prevention and management.”

It took little time for Pierre-Louis to decide to take part in the bike ride. “As I’ve been cycling myself for the past 10 years, I was really excited by the idea of biking from Brussels all the way down to Barcelona!”, he  adds. “Also, I wanted to show that people with diabetes can take over extraordinary sporting challenges just as other people do”.

When asked about what he enjoyed the most about the ride, it’s difficult for Pierre-Louis to give a short, simple answer. “There were just too many things: from meeting with Eddy Merckx at the start of the tour, to the breath-taking sceneries and including the hard and demanding mountain climbs through the Alps and the Pyrenees…”, he shares. “But most of all, it’s all about the human experience. I’ve got to meet so many amazing people : all the riders of the tour, my teammates, but also volunteers from local diabetes associations along the route. I’m also very proud that I managed to keep a balance in terms of my glycaemic levels and that I was able to enjoy each day of the tour – this might be the biggest achievement on a personal level.”

Now that he’s accomplished this extraordinary challenge to raise awareness of the diabetes cause, Pierre-Louis hopes to continue being a spokesperson for the diabetes community. “Taking part in the tour was the first time I got really involved in raising awareness of diabetes, and of the benefits of sports to manage or prevent this chronic condition. This mission that I share with IDF Europe and TeamBG will remain a priority for me in the future. I’m committed to continue getting the message out about the amazing experience I’ve lived and getting involved with my local association or even at national level - if I can bring something to the community.”

During the tour, Pierre-Louis did get a lot of attention and unintentionally became one of the spokespeople of the tour. “I see myself as being not very good at communicating. However being one of the few French-speaking riders on the tour, I was asked to talk to the media quite a lot! I actually enjoyed being in that position and being able to share my own experience. Even if some news report were short, at least the message has gone out – and that’s what matters!”.

From left to right: Kyle Rose, Katie Gallagher (IDF Europe) and Pierre-Louis at the Grand Tour arrival in BarcelonaBeing part of TeamBG and the Diabetes Online Community also helped Pierre getting a lot of peer-support. “Diabetes being a life-long chronic condition, such platforms are essential for us living with diabetes. There we can get an answer to a question or a doubt we might have, or immediate access to information about diabetes. It’s also the perfect platform to develop projects, as we can testify for the Grand Tour.”

As for future plans, Pierre-Louis will now join the Team Novo Nordisk developmental team and will go back to his studies after this new cycling adventure.

“I’m currently enrolled in the fourth year of medicine at the University of Dijon.  I choose this field because I’m passionate about understanding how our organism works and what causes it to stop working properly.” Will he specialize in diabetes? Pierre-Louis is not so sure. “People say that usually doctors specialize in their own pathologies. I’m not sure I’ll become a diabelogist or endocrinologist. Right now I’m more interested in specializing in other fields of medicines or even surgery. Many fields are tempting, but I’ll need to make a choice eventually!”

All this being said, is Pierre-Louis ready for another bike ride? “Definitely! I hope there will be a second edition of the tour!”. We’ll be sure to meet Pierre-Louis on the road again!