Team NetApp-Endura will have a new name with new sponsors in the coming season, with some new riders coming in as well, but it hopes to carry over one thing from this year – a wildcard invitation to the Tour de France.
“We showed our best this year – it has been years since a wildcard team could bring a rider into seventh place overall,” said team manager Ralph Denk in an interview with Radsport-news.com.
That rider was Leopold König, who has, according to Denk, “extraordinary capabilities and he showed that at the Tour.” It was the Czech rider’s second Grand Tour. Last year, he finished ninth overall at the Vuelta a España, winning one stage.
His accomplishments have also increased several teams' interest in him, with his agent saying he has offers from three WorldTour teams, as well as from NetApp. “We have made him a very good offer, which ought to be competitive with those from the WorldTour,” Denk said. “I see the chances that he stays with us to be 50-50.”
The team has already announced that Bora will be the new main name sponsor for the next five years, and Canadian bike producer Argon 18 Bike has said it will be the co-sponsor. Denk would only confirm that he has “economic security” for his future team. “Because of our current partnership with Fuji, I cannot at this time comment on the future second-name sponsor,” he said diplomatically.
The team will continue with its emphasis on young German riders. Many discussions are underway at the moment, “but basically we have no time pressure about new signings.” He expects to be able to “say a lot more about personnel” in about a month.
New riders may well be signed, but “first we are thinking about our current rider around König, especially since our budget is limited.”
However, the 2014 season is far from over. They are currently riding the Tour of Denmark, and the team will debut in the USA Pro Challenge in Colorado. The RideLondon-Surrey Classic, Arctic Tour of Norway, the Hamburg Cyclassics and the Giro di Lombardia also are on their dance card.
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