Team NetApp-Endura is hoping for another wildcard invitation to the Giro d'Italia, and looking to claim its first grand tour stage win this year. The team sees its chances for the invitation as “better than last year,” when it was surprisingly invited to the race.
"We have strengthened our team and shown that we can ride a three-week race well. We want to show what we can to not only for ourselves but also to help bring German cycling back to the top again that is important to us," team manager Ralph Denk told Cyclingnews.
"Last year Michele Acquarone gave us the chance to ride our first grand tour. We did well with two second places in stages and this year I want a stage win. We have several riders who could win a stage."
One of those riders is Jan Barta, who last year brought in four individual wins for the German-based Professional Continental team. His performance in the Giro was Denk's best memory of the race: "the first stage in the Alps, when Barta was in the long escape and finished a close second."
Barta would be more than happy to ride the Giro again. "It is a an enormous race and I would be excited to have this possibility, to be at the start of the 2013 Giro," he told Cyclingnews. Last year's race "was unbelievable, the atmosphere was amazing, crowds of people at the start and finish, and especially in the hills."
The Czech rider also reflected on his experiences from his first career grand tour. "It is the 21 days in which a rider experiences both good and bad. Sometimes you feel strong, in a good mood and have success. On the other hand, some stages could be very exhausting if the rider is not rested enough. Then you has to be mentally strong to survive and to have an opportunity to carry on and to complete the race."
Barta was not the team's only rider to go close to a stage win in the race, as Bartosz Huzarski brought in a second place finish in the dramatic closing climb in Assisi. He, too, is eager to return. "Wow, that would be something beautiful to be back in this colorful cycling peloton on one of the most beautiful races in the world. Of course, the thought of winning a stage still sits in my head and if my team gets to the race, I will try for my chance."
Last year's Giro meant a lot to the 32-year-old Pole. "At this race I achieved my biggest success, I was second in one of the stages. In Italy I always felt good," he told Cyclingnews.
Giro organizers had originally planned to announce their wildcards on January 8, but in light of the confusion over Team Katusha's licence, that announcement could be delayed, Michele Acquarone told Cyclingnews last month. One of the four wildcards will go to Androni Giacattoli, which won the Italian Team Cup for 2012, meaning that only three berths are still to be decided at the 2013 Giro.