Cozza ready for new start at Team NetApp

Steven Cozza is looking forward to racing at Team NetApp, where he hopes to have more opportunities to race for himself. However the American emphasized that it is an “equal opportunity” team which will ride for whoever is strongest in any given race. “Everybody on this team is going to get their chance. There is no one leader,” he told Cyclingnews.

Cozza is coming off a four-year stint at Garmin and is glad to be racing in Europe. “Since I was 16 I've been coming over to Europe to race and it's always been my dream to live and race in Europe. I've been living my dream and this allows me to continue doing that, so I look forward to going with NetApp,” he told Cyclingnews Tuesday at the NetApp team presentation in Amsterdam.

The biggest goal of the season will be the Amgen Tour of California, with the invitation arriving only this week. “I'm really happy, it's good for the whole team. It's definitely a step in the right direction for Team NetApp. I'm very excited. It will be a huge goal for the team and thereafter we will be accepted into more races because of it.”

A stage win at that race is a goal of the native of Petaluma, California, but he admitted that he has not yet picked one particular stage to aim for. “Actually I haven't even looked over most of the race. I know some of the first few stages.

“I think it will be important for NetApp to be very animated in that race. We're not going to be hiding, we're going to be very aggressive and in the breaks, and we will try to get a stage win, that would be awesome. It's very possible for us.”

When he left Garmin at the end of 2010, Cozza had a number of reasons for joining Germany's only Professional Continental team. For one, it gave him something to aim for with the team gunning for a ProTeam licence and the Tour de France in the next few years.

He also liked the fact that sponsor NetApp's main headquarters are in his home state of California. But also, “I feel that NetApp gives me the opportunities I need to succeed in my cycling and it's a very ambitious team.”

Asked to describe himself as a rider, he said, “I'm an all-around guy. I guess my specialty is time trialing and prologues. I'm also really good at hard races like Roubaix and Amstel. In stage races, I'm pretty good at picking out a stage and escaping and doing well in breakaways.”

His goal for the season, “is just to be strong and consistent throughout the whole year, and to do well in all the races I ride.” One of those will be the Tour of California, but he is also looking forward to the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad.

“I'd love to do well at that race, I've ridden it before,” he told Cyclingnews. “I do well in that kind of race in Belgium, so I'm hoping that I can be successful in the early part of the year leading up to the Tour of California.

Much as he loves the hometown race, his passion still leans towards the Spring Classics. “I think I would enjoy winning any race in Europe, but some of my favourites are Amstel Gold Race, Flanders, or Paris-Roubaix. I think it would be exciting to win Amstel.”

There is one important non-sporting aspect to Cozza now, as he no longer has the moustache which helped make him famous. “I always change my look. Sometimes I have a beard, sometimes I have a moustache, sometimes I don't.

“Right now I don't, but definitely some day I will grow it back I don't know when, but I liked having a moustache.”

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