Leopold Konig is optimistic of leading his NetApp-Endura team at the Tour de France next year with the 25-year-old already banking on a wildcard invite. Despite these invites not being confirmed for many months yet, Konig has already targeted the French Grand Tour as his main objective for 2014. If there is one advantage to the demise of many pro teams from this year, it is that it opens up opportunities for those that remain, and Konig is hoping that NetApp-Endura will be the beneficiary in the suddenly less competitive market for a Grand Tour start.
"Team Europcar will become a ProTeam and receive an automatic invitation," Kinig told Idnes. "Sojasun disappears. Then one of the invitations will go to Cofidis and the three others will go to foreign teams.
"One of them has to be for us. But those are all speculations. I will have to wait until March or April [for confirmation] but since October 1, my goal has been to prepare for the Tour."
A full list of teams applying for a Pro-Continental license for 2014 is available here. From that list, four teams will be offered an invite to the Tour. IAM Cycling greatly boosted their chances after signing Sylvain Chavanel, and as surmised by Konig, Cofidis are also expected to receive a start at their home race. This then leaves just two invites for the remaining Pro-Conti teams to fight over. Konig's optimism, however, is justified given NetApp-Endura came close to receiving a wildcard this year, in a much tighter contest.
Konig made a successful Grand Tour debut at the Vuelta last month where he won a stage and finished ninth on the overall classification, results that along with a stage win at the Tour of California sparked interest in the 25-year-old from bigger teams. Konig, however, chose to remain with NetApp-Endura for at least one more year citing the opportunity to remain team leader as weighing heavily in his decision.
"I got some extra money, but money is not everything for me," he said. "The important thing is that NetApp can guarantee me to be the leader in the Tour.
"Next year I want to get some more results in this jersey. Then we'll see," he said. "Either NetApp elevates the Pro Tour, or I can deal with teams that have approached me this year."