Team NetApp proud of invitations to Tour of California and Vattenfall Cyclassics races
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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Team NetApp proud of invitations to Tour of California and Vattenfall Cyclassics races

by Conal Andrews at 8:06 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
Sponsors pleased with investment, could extend to 2014

Team NetAppGerman Pro Continental team NetApp is already seeing the benefits of stepping up to Pro Continental level in 2011, securing invites to some very big races for the season ahead.

The team has been confirmed as taking part in a number of events, and says that it is ‘especially proud’ of invitations to the UCI World Cup [formerly called ProTour] race Vattenfall Cyclassics in Hamburg, plus the Tour of California.

“The Tour of California fits into our calendar perfectly – [it comes] immediately after the Classics line-up and as a start to the Tour season,” said its manager Ralph Denk.

“Apart from that, the fact that the tour takes place in the state where NetApp is headquartered gives us the unique opportunity to be really close to the our main sponsor's employees and to experience their enthusiasm for cycling.”

NetApp is a computer storage and data management company based in Sunnyvale, California. It raced as a Continental team in 2010 but has stepped up a level for this season, being confirmed in December as one of 23 Pro Continental squads.

After the demise of the Milram and Gerolsteiner teams, it is now the highest-ranked German squad in the peloton. It will start the season with 17 riders, including new signing Steven Cozza, who is moving from the Garmin team. Swiss under 23 champion Michael Baer, Czech rider Leopold Konig, the Pole Bartosz Huzarski and experienced pros Eric Baumann and Andreas Schillinger are others who will compete in its colours in the months ahead.

A solid race programme offers plenty of opportunity for a team determined to impress and to improve. It will line out against some of the world’s top riders in the Challenge Mallorca races, then compete in other events such as the Vuelta a Andalucia, Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and the Brabantse Pijl.

The Tour of California and Vattenfall Cyclassics will follow after that, and are part of the team’s long term plans.

"One thing is very clear: we want to apply as a team for the WorldTour in 2012,” said Denk, outlining the speed at which it wants to grow. “In 2010 we laid the foundation for this, which we must build upon this season. Team NetApp is now one of the 40 best teams in the world. The level of the Professional Continental teams has probably never been higher than in this season – and the competition has never been as fierce. We are ambitiously going into the new season, backed by the motivation from the first season.”

He said that he’d faith that the riders can together achieve big things. “The combination of youth and experience is what makes our team great. The changes this season will make us better prepared for all terrains – regardless of whether they are sprints, Classics or rankings in smaller tours.”

NetApp’s senior vice president Andreas König refers to its backing of the squad as a ‘definite gain’ for the company. He said securing an invite to one of the biggest American races is a big boost.

“It is a really special honor that the Tour of California invited Team NetApp. The anticipation of our employees and partners at NetApp's headquarters is tremendous,” he stated.

The company has been very pleased with things thus far and last year extended the contract until 2012. It is now looking at possibly extending further until 2014.

“Our decision to invest in a cycling team has proved to be very worthwhile for our company after the first year,” said König, who seems clear on the benefits. “By advancing to the second league, enthusiasm for Team NetApp will increase worldwide among our employees, partners and customers. It is now up to us to examine how we can utilize this momentum for the long term.”

If they do decide to extend, announcing that at the Tour of California would seem to be the perfect time and place to do so. But even if it takes longer to make that decision, riding the race is already a big plus for the squad, and shows that things are moving forward well.


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