NetApp Endura focussing on Tour de France wildcard rather than Giro d’Italia
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Wednesday, January 08, 2014

NetApp Endura focussing on Tour de France wildcard rather than Giro d’Italia

by Shane Stokes at 2:02 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
 
Team aiming to be first German squad to ride Tour since 2010

NetApp EnduraPreviously thought to be vying for a place in the Giro d’Italia, the NetApp Endura team will instead focus on riding its first-ever Tour de France this July, thus returning German cycling to the sport’s biggest race.

The Pro Continental team confirmed today that the Tour is its big focus for the season, a target it feels it is capable of achieving in what is its fifth season in the peloton.

“The Tour de France is the target we have definitively set for ourselves. With our successes at the Vuelta a España, we showed just what potential this team has,” stated Ralph Denk, referring to Leopold König’s victory on stage eight plus his ninth place overall.

“Year by year we have set ourselves ever higher targets and have always backed this up with results. Consequently, we should now strive to participate in the biggest race of the year.”

On November 27th

Giro organisers RCS Sport named eight teams which were then in the running for wildcard slots

. They were NetApp Endura, Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox, Caja Rural-RGA, Team Colombia, IAM Cycling, MTN-Qhubeka, Team Novo Nordisk and UnitedHealtcare Pro Cycling Team.

RCS Sport subsequently told VeloNation that list was not definitive

, and that others could also apply for consideration before the deadline in December.

Today’s announcement that the team will focus on the Tour means that it will not chase a Giro wildcard. The roster size and budget of a Pro Continental team means that the July event will take priority. Riding two Grand Tours in succession will have to wait until another year.

However NetApp Endura will seek to ride another RCS Sport event, namely Tirreno – Adriatico.

For the best tour riders in the team, Tirreno – Adriatico should be the highlight of the spring. “Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to be there last year. With the individual and team time trials as well as the mountain top finish in the ski resort of Cittareale, Tirreno – Adriatico is my kind of race,” said König. “With this team behind me, I believe I can ride into the Top ten and perhaps shake things up nice and early in the season.”

Denk describes Tirreno as a race which would be the stage race highlight of the team’s spring campaign. “Last year we performed well there. We put up a real fight for the KOM jersey, we were the best wildcard team in both time trials and at the same time we had two riders in the GC’s Top 25. But we still have the potential to do better and that’s what we want to prove this year,” he said.

“I am confident that the organizers will positively assess the quality of our team. We are hoping for a wildcard.”

In addition to the Italian event, the team plans to begin racing at the start of next month and hopes to compete in three of the spring Monuments.

As for the later Tour de France goal, it will have to wait a couple more months before it knows if it will get the nod from ASO. If it is successful, it will be the first time in four years that a German team participates in the event.

This fact is something that Denk and his riders will hope will be in their favour. So too the progression the team has made since its inception.

“Our story is unique,” he asserts. “Within just a few years we have managed to develop riders from amateur level to a point where they guarantee success in the biggest races. The fact that all our top performers choose to continue riding for us in spite of offers to join the WorldTour speaks for itself. This continuity is crucial in giving us the self-belief to participate in the Tour.”

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