Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - Team Type 1's participation in the Tour do Rio in Brazil marks the first time the world's only men's professional cycling team with riders who have Type 1 diabetes will compete on the South American continent.

Joe Eldridge, who co-founded Team Type 1 in 2004 with Phil Southerland, is one of five racers competing in the race that begins Wednesday in Rio de Janeiro. Joining him will be Fabio Calabria - who also has Type 1 diabetes - and Ken Hanson, Aldo Ino Ilesic and Chris Jones.

"We hope to use this race to raise awareness of our team and diabetes in South America," Eldridge said. "Team Type 1 already has some great supporters in Brazil and we hope to gain some more by the end of the tour."

Eldridge was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at the age of 10. He has enjoyed some of his best results as a third-year professional, including a runner-up finish at the Perry (Ga.) Roubaix Criterium and fourth at the Cherokee County (Ga.) Road Race when he was part of a 1-2-4-5 finish by Team Type 1.

"Personally I want to show the people of Rio that it is possible for a person with Type 1 diabetes to compete and excel in their most prestigious cycling event," Eldridge said. "Maybe we can find the next member of Team Type 1 when we are racing in Rio."

Team Type 1 Director Sportif Vassili Davidenko said the squad for the 486-mile (783 km) five-stage race presents a number of opportunities for success.

"Chris will be our rider for the general classification and Aldo is a proven sprinter, with his three stage wins at the Tour du Maroc and one at the Vuelta Mexico," Davidenko said. "Ken will be there to help Aldo get in the right position in the sprints, as will Joe. Fabio has shown that if he's in the right move in a breakaway he can do something."

The Tour do Rio has been run on and off the past 10 years under a variety of names. Last year's edition was dominated by Brazilians - with seven in the top 10 - including overall winner Breno Franca Sidoti.