Steven Cozza will ride for Team NetApp in 2011. The signing is a signal of the small German team's desire to move up to Professional Continental status and participate in races in the United States.
Cozza was one of several new signings for the team, which has the announced goal of moving up to the ProTour by 2012. U23 Swiss national champion Michael Baer and former German national junior champion David Hesselbarth will also join the team
"Steven Cozza was a preferred candidate. He is not just a great guy, but someone who will help us to realise new sporting achievements with his ProTour experience,” said team manager Ralph Denk. “The signings of Michael Baer and David Hesselbarth highlight the fact that we are keeping a close eye on young riders, with the aim of acquiring these for our team. The blend of such talented riders and experienced international professionals will define our team in the season ahead."
Cozza, 25, has been with the American Garmin squad since 2007. He won the U23 national time trial title in 2005. His strengths are time trials, sprint preparation and attacks. While he so far been primarily a domestique, “the American will now move even further into the foreground,” the team said.
Baer, 22, rode this year for Team Atlas Personal-BMC. He won this year's national U23 title, as well as a stage in the Thüringen Rundfahrt. He is captain of the Swiss U23 team at the Worlds in Melbourne.
Hesselbarth, also 22, previously rode for Team Heizomat. He won the national junior title in 2006. his year he has brought in top 10 placings in the German championships, the Bochum Giro and the Tour Alsace. He will also be riding in the world championships.
NetApp had also previously announced the signings of Belgian Dimitri Claeys, Italian Cesare Benedetti and German Timon Seubert, along with the contract extensions of seven riders. “It is fantastic that we can look ahead to starting next season with the majority of our current team members. This underscores our claim to be constantly developing further as team and growing healthily," said Denk.