Rubber meets the road: DSM backs cycling to boost personalised nutrition

By Shane Starling

- Last updated on GMT

Rubber meets the road: DSM backs cycling to boost personalised nutrition

Related tags Dsm personalised nutrition Sports nutrition

With the digi-ink still drying on its freshly minted pro cycling sponsorship, nutritionals giant Royal DSM is demonstrating its commitment to sports nutrition and personalised nutrition.

By upping its existing 5-year nutrition partner status with German-based pro outfit Team Sunweb to title sponsor in 2021, DSM aims to give team members a nutritional edge through live biotracking tech and uber-refined supplement-enhanced dietary regimes for each rider in the men’s, women’s and development squads that comprise Team DSM.

DSM will feed the elite athlete level intel it gathers back into its own nutrient programmes to refine developments in omega-3s, tomato extracts, proteins, peptides, lutein and others beyond sports nutrition core markets.

“Pro athletes demand the most from their body and their equipment…The solutions that we provide society at large ultimately benefit from being informed by such proven results,”​ James Bauly, DSM’s global personalised nutrition chief, told NutraIngredients.

‘A wider public…’

At the same time, as a consumer-facing entity, Team DSM will throw light on the nutritional activities of the €8bn/year ingredients conglomerate; in sports nutrition, in personalised nutrition and more broadly, in its better nutrition and sustainability efforts.

“The challenges faced by the world, like climate change and malnutrition, are getting more acute,”​ Bauly said.

“Science will bring solutions, but it means we must focus and put all our energy and resources into where we can most make an impact. Our expertise is in health through nutrition and sustainable living – the health of people and planet – and this partnership will give these issues even greater visibility and connect us to a wider public…”

The rise of personalised nutrition

The undisclosed ‘multi-year’ Team DSM deal comes at a time DSM HNH has engaged in a major restructuring to build personalised nutrition into one of three major corporate pillars alongside ‘global products’ and ‘local solutions'.

So far DSM has been a bit vague about how it intends to up the nutritional game it has been refining with Team Sunweb’s three full time nutritionists for the past five years as its official nutrition partner, but emerging tech like diagnostics and wearables and refinements with supplement partner Sanas along with its own offerings are all part of the data-driven nutritional solutions”.

“Personalised Nutrition takes this to the next level by tailoring specific nutritional combinations according to each individual’s precise needs, which can vary significantly from rider to rider,” ​Bauly said, noting different kinds of riders from climbers to sprinters had very different nutritional needs.

“Every body is different and so are the goals of each rider.”

DSM supplement offerings in the mix will include protein peptides, lutein and zeaxanthin, algae-sourced omega-3s, tomato extracts and probiotics to deliver performance and wellness benefits.

“DSM’s brands will either complement or be incorporated by Sanas into their products for use by Team DSM.”

Improved rider nutritional biomarker tracking is part of the plan, even if live tracking via wearables and biosensors might be a bridge too far at this stage but partnerships with firms like Mixfit and Wellmetrix​ are moving things in that direction.

As it stands, “data will be collected after the race to complete the full picture of their nutrition intake that day.”

Keeping it clean

Hardened cycling fans might scoff at such optimised nutrition talk given cycling’s dubious relationship with doping over the decades where ‘marginal gains’ concepts in areas like nutrition and equipment have too frequently been undermined by subsequent links to doping practices by riders and teams.

Team DSM will intensify Team Sunweb’s anti-doping efforts that are already some of the most stringent among the 19 teams in the World Tour pro peloton. The team is part of the ethical cycling body the Mouvement pour un Cyclisme Crédible (MPCC) and in 2021 will increase the frequency of World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA)-level anti-doping controls within the team, far beyond what is required by cycling authorities.”

“Doping is not ethical and it is not healthy,”​ Bauly said. “It’s bad for the competition and it’s bad for the health of the athletes too. We are not naïve and recognise that competitive people don’t always follow the best ethical standards if it benefits themselves at the expense of others.”

“But we would like to think we can contribute by educating the athletes about good nutrition, and supporting them in their efforts to operate credibly and ethically above any other goal.”

Bauly said Team DSM was not using ketone esters​, that have risen in use in pro racing in recent years, despite not being approved for use in the EU.

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