Team NetApp and Endura Racing merge for upcoming season

Team NetApp-Endura will be a new addition to the peloton for the next two years, as Germany's Pro Continental Team NetApp squad and Great Britain's Continental Endura Racing team will combine. Team NetApp-Endura will ride as a German-based team with a Pro Continental licence and will feature 20 riders.

The teams announced their plan on Thursday afternoon and both sponsors have signed on for two years. NetApp, based in the US, is a leading provider of storage and data management solutions. Endura is a British technical cycle clothing brand.

Eight riders will come over from the Endura Continental-ranked team, with NetApp providing 12 riders and the license. Management and support staff will come from both teams.

"We have undergone a sporting development that is virtually unprecedented," said Ralph Denk, Team NetApp team manager. "In three years we have managed to develop young riders into significant performers at the Giro d'Italia. With ten victories so far, the team races its best season ever. I am delighted that NetApp continues to support this."

"Our Continental Team, Endura Racing, is now one of the top ranked teams in the European Tour and this progress is the product of continuous commitment and hard work," said Jim McFarlane, director of Endura Ltd. "Team NetApp and Endura Racing share the same ambition of progressing to the highest levels of sporting success and our commitment to Team NetApp-Endura means that we will be present at some of the biggest races on the planet."

Endura had indicated in July that it would merge with a Pro Continental team for the coming year. "I can confirm that there are serious conversations that are well developed in that area," McFarlane told Cyclingnews.

NetApp first appeared on the scene in 2010 as a Continental-ranked team, moving up to Pro Continental status in 2011. The team, led by former pros Jens Heppner and Enrico Poitschke, struggled in its first two years of existence.

The surprising announcement of a wildcard for the 2012 Giro d'Italia was apparently the catalyst for the German team's breakthrough. It now has 10 wins on the season, with Jan Barta winning the overall title in the Settimana Coppi e Bartali and Rund um Köln. Most recently, Matthias Brändle won the GP Stad Zottegem on August 21.

Despite the good performances, the team's future remained in doubt, as sponsor NetApp's contract expires at the end of 2012. However, only two riders had announced they are leaving the team, as Swiss riders Reto Hollenstein and Marcel Wyss will be riding for the newly formed IAM team next year.

Endura is a UK-based team which was established in 2009, and has numerous victories this season, mainly in lower-ranked races. Its star rider is Jonathan Tiernan-Locke, who is leaving the team at the end of the season. His wins this year include the overall titles in the Tour Mediterranean and the Tour du Haut Var.

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