A German company is set to take over title sponsorship of Team NetApp-Endura from the beginning of next season, the squad announced on Thursday. The new sponsor, which will be unveiled on the first rest day of the Tour de France at Besançon, has signed a five-year contract with holding company Ralph Denk pro cycling GmbH.
In a statement on Thursday morning, NetApp-Endura team manager Ralph Denk welcomed the new sponsor as an opportunity to guarantee the Pro Continental team’s long-term future. The news comes on the eve of the team’s first appearance at the Tour de France.
“Although the withdrawal of the main sponsor usually causes a major crisis for a cycling team, for us it has opened up a brand new chance,” Denk said. “We jumped at the opportunity and secured for ourselves long-term stability up until 2019. Of course, I’m especially happy that we’ve managed to do that with a German company. For me, it’s a very clear message for the sport of cycling in Germany.”
The new backer’s arrival will mark the first time that a German company has been involved as the title sponsor of a professional team since Milram ceased its involvement at the end of the 2010 season. Gerolsteiner (2008) and T-Mobile (2007) had previously pulled out of the sport in response to doping scandals, while terrestrial German television stations also ceased broadcasting the Tour live in 2007.
Though already registered under a German licence, Denk’s squad currently has American (NetApp) and Scottish (Endura) sponsors, and an international identity, with riders from the Czech Republic, Ireland, Italy, Great Britain, Germany, Australia, Poland and Portugal on the roster. Denk suggested that the new sponsor would increase the German representation on the team.
“It will be more than just a name change. We’ll also take the chance to give our squad a new face. We’ll sign on new talents and also strengthen our German roots,” he said. “I think we'll be even much more interesting for many riders in the peloton now with the news today. But most importantly, our guys can compete in their first Tour de France without worrying about their future careers – that takes an enormous amount of pressure off the team.”
The team began life under the NetApp banner in 2010, and received a wildcard invitation to the Giro d'Italia in 2012 before merging with British squad Endura Racing to become Team NetApp-Endura ahead of the 2013 season. Leopold König landed the team's first Grand Tour stage victory at last year's Vuelta a España and the Czech will lead the team at its debut Tour de France. "I assure both sponsors [NetApp and Endura], that we will offer them the ultimate peak in our partnerships with this year’s Tour de France,” Denk said.