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German Professional Continental team presented in Amsterdam
Team NetApp is Germany's highest-ranked squad, and is looking to build for the future. The team was presented on Tuesday in Amsterdam, at the sponsor's European headquarters, and also made the announcement that it had officially been invited to the Amgen Tour of California.
NetApp has risen from a 14-rider Continental-ranked team in 2010 to being an outfit with 17 riders from 10 nations and a Professional Continental licence. The team boasts three riders with ProTour experience, including new signing and former Garmin rider, Steven Cozza.
“We want to grow in the peloton step by step,” said team manager Ralph Denk. “2010 was a sensational season, and we were accepted immediately in the peloton. Not just sporting-wise but also with the management, everything worked out.”
The new season brings, “a strengthened team, clear goals, Pro-Conti status.” That status has helped with race selection as well. The team already has the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad on its calendar, and only recently learned that it will ride the Vattenfall Cyclassics in Hamburg.
But the biggest news arrived last night – an invitation to the Amgen Tour of California, which “overjoyed” the team. Sponsor NetApp is based in Sunnyvale, California, so the race is “in their backyard.”
That hoped-for invitation was one of the reasons behind the signing of Cozza, sport manager Jens Heppner told Cyclingnews. They wanted an American rider and the Californian from fitted the bill. He also has several years of ProTour expereince to share with the young team, with eight riders 23 or younger, and has the ability to bring in wins on his own, according to Heppner.
Cozza, who no longer sports his trademark moustache, is very excited with the new challenge, telling Cyclingnews, “this year presents a lot of new challenges to me, which I welcome. I have a lot to prove this year, to myself, to the team, my fans and the sponsor.”
NetApp will soon be on its way to another training camp. The squad will then open the season at the Mallorca Challenge, before heading on to Andalusia, Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, De Panne, “all the German one-day races,” and, of course, California.