German team tackles first Grand Tour without Czech climber König
Team NetApp is headed to its first Grand Tour highly motivated and filled with confidence from its recent victories. Jan Barta, who won both the Settimana Coppi e Bartali and Rund um Köln this year, will lead the team in the Giro d'Italia.
The Professional Continental team will have to do without Czech climber Leo König, who is having back problems.
“Our successes over the last few weeks were shared amongst several members of the team, and we’ll be employing this philosophy for the Giro too,” said team manager Ralph Denk. “We are conscious that the overall ranking is not an issue for us, so we’ll take things day by day. The riders’ form is right and all of them are strong enough to get some good results.”
Barta, 27, will rely on his experience and confidence gained from the team's first wins in its two years at the Profesional Continental level. He will be supported by two riders with Giro experience, Matthias Brändle and Bartosz Huzarski, who wore the leader's jersey for one stage at the Settimana. Climbers Andreas Dietziker and Reto Hollenstein will be joined by Cesare Benedetti, who also wore the leader's jersey at the Settimana for one stage.
The team will be rounded out by Daniel Schorn and Timon Seubert , who “have proven their speed and fighting spirit in Classics like the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix.”The ninth rider will be chosen later this week.
Enrico Poitschke will share sport director duties with Jens Heppner, who celebrated 10 days in the maglia rosa as race leader in 2002. “Three weeks of cycling at the very highest level is a real challenge. If we can perform as we have been doing over the last few weeks at the Giro, then we’ll achieve a really good debut,” Heppner said.
The team also announced that König, who would have been the team's rider for the GC, will not be able to participate, as he is suffering from severe back problems. “Of course it’s tough to be without him, but we’d rather he recovers and is fit in the second half of the season than allow him to race in pain,” Denk said.