NetApp – Endura and Katusha given Amstel Gold Race wildcards
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Thursday, February 07, 2013

NetApp – Endura and Katusha given Amstel Gold Race wildcards

by Shane Stokes at 6:17 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Spring Classics
 
German team celebrating green light for Dutch Classic

Amstel Gold RaceThe NetApp Endura team and the Katusha outfit are both celebrating getting a wildcard place in April’s prestigious Amstel Gold Race Classic, with each squad having different reasons to be pleased at today’s decision.

For NetApp – Endura, the green light is a recognition of the team’s expansion and of the work it has done thus far as it seeks to eventually grow into a WorldTour outfit. It rode well in a number of big events last year, not least with two second places on stages of its debut Giro d’Italia, and is continuing its progress this season after bringing the Endura sponsor plus several of that team’s former riders on board.

As for Katusha, it got automatic entry to the Amstel Gold Race last year as it was part of the WorldTour. Oscar Freire almost won the race for the team, but was caught seconds from the line by the winner Enrico Gasparotto, Jelle Vanendert (Lotto Belisol) and Peter Sagan (Liquigas Cannondale).

This year, though, things are considerably different as the team was refused WorldTour licence registration and, while it awaits a CAS decision about this refusal, must now rely on wildcards to get into the top races.

NetApp – Endura manager Ralph Denk said that the team was determined to shine in the Amstel event and in other Classics.

“We applied for the Amstel Gold Race this year quite deliberately. Our achievements last season convinced the organizers, so we got one of the coveted wildcards,” he said today. “We are grateful for their confidence and, as always, will do our best to make this an interesting race.

“In the context of our new signings, we have clearly become stronger for the Classics. We really want to show our strengths during the week in the Ardennes. With the Amstel Gold Race we were able to secure one of the three Classics we wanted. Participation at Liège-Bastogne-Liège or Flèche Wallonne would be the icing on the cake.”

The team has already secured green lights to ride Tirreno - Adriatico, II Lombardia and the Critérium du Dauphiné, and now has entry to a fourth WorldTour race.

It is hoping to get a green light to either ride the Tour de France or the Vuelta a España.

The Amstel Gold Race will take place on April 14th this year. In contrast to recent editions, the finish line has been moved further past the top of the Cauberg climb, and will now be situated where the 2012 world road race championships finished.

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