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U.S.-registered Novo Nordisk to make WorldTour history in 2016

Team Novo Nordisk — the U.S.-registered Professional Continental team consisting of diabetic racers — will make its WordTour stage race debut next season at the Tour of Poland.

The Polish tour (July 12-18) included Novo Nordisk among its five wildcard invitations for the 2016 edition, which is moving from August to July to make room for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics on the international calendar.

The invitation marks the first ever WorldTour-level stage race for Novo Nordisk, which made its WorldTour debut this season when it raced in Milano-Sanremo in March.

“This race is especially meaningful as it will be our first appearance in a WorldTour stage race,” said Novo Nordisk’s Vassili Davidenko. “We are looking forward to racing the Tour of Poland for the first time in 2016.”

The Tour of Poland invitation is an important milestone for the squad that dates back to 2005. In 2008, it made the leap to the pro ranks, bringing on non-diabetic riders before returning to an all-diabetic squad with the arrival of sponsor Novo Nordisk in 2013 to promote its marketing message.

“Our riders are ready to take on this next level of racing,” said CEO and co-founder Phil Southerland. “We’re looking forward to competing against the best teams in the world.”

Other wildcards include CCC Sprandi Polkowice, Verva Active, Bardiani-CSF, and the Polish national team. Organizers said two more invites could be included.

For 2016, just as in 2012, the race will change its dates so it will not coincide with the Olympic road cycling events. Race organizers said despite conflicting with the Tour de France, the new dates do not create a problem.

“The same thing happened in 2012,” said race director Czeslaw Lang. “The Tour de Pologne will be the last, short, high-level race before the Olympics, so Poland can serve as an alternative to the Tour.”

The race also confirmed it will organize a Women’s Tour de Pologne (July 18-20) that will become part of the new women’s UCI WorldTour calendar.