Team bonding activities are supposed to be a time of connection. Sure, perhaps there are annoying moments with photographer asking riders to do something wacky, and maybe there are a few drinks too many. But for Uno-X Mobility, the end-of-year gathering took on an altogether more sombre tone – with two riders admitted to hospital suffering carbon monoxide poisoning.
To step back a little: we will place this friendly Scandinavian ProTeam in Copenhagen, a few weeks before Christmas. There, the riders, management and staff of the mostly-Norwegian-but-a-little-bit-Danish team – 90 of them in total – were at an indoor go-kart track. The Uno-X booking was for 3.5 hours, with groups competing to circle the course the most times. Herein lies the jeopardy: an extended period of screaming four-stroke engines and numerous competitive people cooped up inside.
Of those, two were particularly potent drivers: Anders Halland Johannessen and recent arrival from Team DSM, Jonas Iversby Hvideberg. “Go-karting is the most fun thing I know, so I was inside the hall the whole time and never went out to take a break or get some fresh air,” Johannessen told the ever-attentive Norwegian outlet, TV2. “We are competitive people. Everyone got to drive a bit, but we soon saw who had the fastest laps. The two of us [Johannessen and Hvideberg] were high on the list, so we spent a lot of time in the go-kart.”
While Johannessen and Hvideberg screeched their way around the track like it was Fast and the Furious: Copenhagen Drift, “many of the others had grown bored,” according to TV2. That meant even more time in the drivers’ seat for our intrepid duo, who only realised something was wrong on the way back to the hotel. Resting before that night’s team dinner, Hvideberg “felt dizzy and heavy in the head … I just got worse and worse, and finally I was lying in the foetal position in bed with a severe headache.”
Next door, meanwhile, Johannessen began vomiting. “Five minutes later I was over the edge … I couldn’t keep my eyes open and sent a message to the team doctor. When he entered the room I was pretty absent,” Johannessen told TV2, before admitting with a touch of understatement that “it was probably an unpleasant experience for those around us to see how bad we were.”
The Uno-X doctor quickly realised that something was amiss, and the riders were rushed to hospital where carbon monoxide poisoning was diagnosed. The duo were given oxygen and kept overnight. Anders Johannessen’s twin brother, Tobias – who had an impactful ride at the Tour de France this year – also stayed at the hospital to keep an eye on his lookalike.
The ordeal wasn’t yet over, with Johannessen and Hvideberg receiving further precautionary treatment in a pressure tank at Copenhagen’s National Hospital. They were soon discharged, however, and within a couple of days had returned to full physical health, joining the team in Spain at a training camp a few weeks later. In the end, joked Johannessen, “I’m not sure if we were any worse off than the others who went out the same night we ended up in hospital.”
Uno-X had a breakthrough season in 2023, receiving a wildcard for the Tour de France and bolstering the team lineup with the addition of veteran rider Alexander Kristoff. For 2024, the team’s stature has grown even further, with the addition of ex-WorldTour signees including promising Norwegian GC rider Andreas Leknessund and the charismatic Dane, Magnus Cort. The team enters the season with starts secured at the Italian monuments, and will be hoping for a return to the French Grand Tour. Until then, we can safely assume that they’ll be giving the go-karts a miss.
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