Vuelta wildcards: NetApp grateful, IAM disappointed

The wildcard invitations to the Vuelta a Espana have left Team NetApp-Endura happy and IAM Cycling Team disappointed. Earlier this week race organizers announced that the three wildcards would go to NetApp, Cofidis and Caja Rural.

“The whole team is excited and can¹t wait to race the Vuelta," said NetApp team manager Ralph Denk. “The Vuelta is very demanding this year. But I think that is good. Because we have always had our biggest upsets when the challenges were particularly large. The team's development is simply enormous since the Giro last year. Therefore I am confident that we will justify the invitation to the Vuelta with a great performance.”

NetApp rode its first Grand Tour last year, tackling the Giro d'Italia. While the German Professional Continental team did not win any stages, it secured several top ten finishes, including two second-places. It merged with the British-based team Endura over the off-season, and has one win so far this season and took all three podium places in the Ronde van Drenthe.

“I appreciate that the organizers of the Vuelta invited a young team as we are. We are a new generation of successful riders who need to compete in the world¹s best races to further develop,” said Denk.

IAM Cycling -the new Swiss-based team, had hoped to take part in a Grand Tour in its first year, and was disappointed not to be invited to the Tour de France. The disappointment continued as it was also not invited to the Vuelta.

In a statement released Friday, the team said that it had already known about the Vuelta non-invitation. After the Tour wildcards were announced, “less than a week later, the organizers of the Vuelta à España warned the head of IAM Cycling that they had decided not to grant the request for an invitation which they had received as soon as the decision regarding IAM Cycling’s place in La Grande Boucle was known.”

Team founder Michel Thétaz was not happy with the lack of invitations.  “Unsurprisingly the Vuelta chose NetApp as their final selection for the 2013 wild cards.  However, the organizers have confirmed their interest in our team,” he said. “We were in contention for the final wild card. Preference, however, was given to NetApp. We acknowledge and respect the decision of the organizers."

“From our side, it should push us to exceed in all the races we will contest to prove to the organizers what our true sporting value really is. Of course, we are working to establish a program of races for the second part of the season, but are also making plans for 2014.”

IAM has two wins in its first season: Thomas Lövkvist won the Tour du Mediterranean and Matteo Pelucchi won a stage at the Tour de la Sarthe.

The Vuelta runs from August 24 to September 15, starting with a team time trial in Vilanova de Arousa and ending 3319 kilometers later in Madrid. The race includes only one individual time trial and 13 mountain stages.


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