NetApp aim for ProTour status within three years

Newly formed German squad Team NetApp has announced its entry into the professional peloton with bold plans to achieve ProTour status within three years. The Continental team, which will start racing in 2010, was introduced in Mendrisio, Switzerland, on Friday evening.

The team is starting out small, but has big ambitions. “The coming season will see 14 selected international talented up-and-coming cyclists being given the chance to experience a new side of cycling and to make it to the very top,” the team said. “The new team will emerge with one ambitious goal: ProTour status within three years.”

Initially NetApp will compete in races such as Rund um Köln and Hel van Het Mergelland. By 2011, however, the goal “is to have a calendar featuring the names of the great Classic races.”

Seven riders have been announced so far. The most-experienced rider is sprinter Eric Baumann. The 29-year-old turned pro in 2003 with Team Wiesenhof and rode for T-Mobile Team from 2004 to 2007. He has raced for Team Nutrixxion Sparkasse since 2008.

Baumann's teammates will include: Tassilo Fricke, Daniel Schorn, Jan Barta, Andres Schillinger, Michael Schwarzmann and Alexander Gottfried.

The team will be led by three former cyclists, Ralph Denk, Jens Heppner and Enrico Poitschke. Denk, 36, will act as team manager. A former mountain-bike team manager, he has been involved in road racing since 2007, when he established the Quest Ralph Denk Team for under-19 riders.

Heppner, 44, raced professionally from 1991 to 2005. He spent ten years with Team Telekom and from 2006 to 2007 he was a team manager at Team Wiesenhof.

Poitschke, 39, retired from racing with Milram at the end of last season. He turned pro in 2001, riding for Wiesenhof from 2001 to 2005 before a move to Milram in 2006.

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