Team NetApp is preparing to take on its first WorldTour race, Paris-Roubaix on Sunday. The German Professional Continental team's line-up will feature only two riders who have ridden “the Hell of the North” before, but will also include previous winners of the U23 and U19 races.
Sprinter Eric Baumann won the Espoirs/U23 version of the race in 2000, and has ridden the elite race in 2005 and 2007. “Even though the most recent races did not go well for us, I am firmly convinced that we will deliver a strong race at Paris-Roubaix. For me personally it’s the most wicked race ever, and I’m really burning for it to happen!” he said on the team's website.
The other race veteran is Steven Cozza, who has ridden the race for the last two years, and hoped for, “ a result that I can be proud of, and support my team with my experience.”
Young Swiss rider Michael Baer won the Juniors version of the race in 2005, and will be making his elite debut. “It will be my sixth start (two times Juniors, three times U23), but my first time with the pros! The distance and the speed will be much higher this year, which is why my expectations are not so high, but for sure I would like to arrive in the Velodrome in Roubaix and at least win the fight against myself and the route.”
Alexander Gottfried rode the race as an espoir in 2004, and has special memories. “I remember 2004. It was simply indescribable riding the last two laps in the stadium and then showering in the infamous showers of Roubaix. You have the feeling there that the ghosts of earlier races are with you.”
Directeur Sportif Enrico Poitschke has also ridden the race, in 2006 and 2008. “The very first time I came in 27th and it's an indescribable feeling to ride into the stadium. Now for the first time I won't be riding the route on a bike, but in the car as the sport director.
“My feeling is that it's a very difficult race if you have no knowledge of the route. Certainly, you can't expect too much from our team, but of course we will fight and give it our all."