'I had to set two alarms at night to check my glucose to make sure I wouldn’t die': meet the revolutionary who won't stop until cycling is safer

The UCI banned his technology from races, yet Supersapiens boss Phil Southerland tells Chris Marshall-Bell he is still dead set on changing the sport in the most profound way for decades

(Image credit: Supersapiens)

Phil Southerland is the cycling team owner and tech developer you’ve probably never heard of, but really should have. For more than 20 years he has used cycling to first keep himself alive and to then empower millions of others. 

But, remarkably, he might never have had the opportunity to ride a bike at all. Aged just seven months old, he lost 40% of his body weight in one week, and every breath sounded like his last. “My mum thought she had a frail, dying baby in her arms,” the Florida-born American says. Doctors were stumped as to what the problem was and it was only when a nurse smelled his fruity breath and urged fellow medics to check his blood glucose levels that they got an answer – Southerland had type 1 diabetes, the world’s youngest person to be diagnosed as diabetic. 

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Chris Marshall-Bell

A freelance sports journalist and podcaster, you'll mostly find Chris's byline attached to news scoops, profile interviews and long reads across a variety of different publications. He has been writing regularly for Cycling Weekly since 2013. In 2024 he released a seven-part podcast documentary, Ghost in the Machine, about motor doping in cycling.

Previously a ski, hiking and cycling guide in the Canadian Rockies and Spanish Pyrenees, he almost certainly holds the record for the most number of interviews conducted from snowy mountains. He lives in Valencia, Spain.