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“The so-called ‘mini Tour de France’ is a highlight for our team, alongside the Tour of California and the Vuelta a España. We’ll ride offensively, show what we’re capable of, and maybe even come up with...

Photo: Team NetApp

ALEXANDER WETTERHALL

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BARTOSZ HUZARSKI

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BORA-HANSGROHE

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CRITERIUM DU DAUPHINE

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LEOPOLD KÖNIG

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30.05.2013 @ 23:54 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Team NetApp-Endura received a wild card for the Criterium du Dauphine and having just returned to Europe after a hugely successful Tour of California, the team hopes to perform strongly in their first WorldTour stage race this year. The main aim is to ride an aggressive race in the high-calibre field while also keeping a firm eye of the general classification option for young Leopold König.

 

Having raced the Giro d'Italia last year and most of the classics this season, Team NetApp-Endura had hoped to be invited to the Tour de France. The team made the shortlist of 6 teams but when it was narrowed down to the three wild card recipients, Germany's only professional cycling team lost out to the French squads Europcar, Sojasun and Cofidis.

 

However, the team will have a formidable opportunity to show off its stage racing talents as it has received an invitation to compete in one of the two big preparation events, the Criterium du Dauphiné. Instead of serving as a valuable build-up, the 8-day race will now be a huge target in its own right, only surpassed in stage racing terms by the Vuelta later in the summer.

 

Hence, it is no surprise to see the team line up all of its best stage racers for the mountainous event. Most of the riders have just returned to Europe after making a hugely successful appearance at the Tour of California which was a main target for the team.

 

One of those riders is young talent Leopold König who will once again spearhead the team this week in France. The Czech has long been marked out as a huge talent but has been hampered by injuries throughout much of his career. He missed the Giro due to health circumstances last year but was in red-hot form in the Tour of California where he overcame some troubles in the heat early in the race to win the queen stage on top of Mount Diablo. He now hopes to challenge the likes of Chris Froome, Alberto Contador, Joaquin Rodriguez, Alejandro Valverde and Samuel Sanchez in the battle for the top position in the Dauphiné.

 

„It will be my first ProTour race this year so it is one of my highlights of the season with the difficult mountain profile which should suit me," he said. "I don‘t want to put any pressure on me so I take it easy as I have clear goals and I am well prepared. Of course confidence is important and after the first victory of the season I am even more motivated to do well in the Dauphiné."

 

He will be supported by climbers Bartosz Huzarski, Jose Mendes and David De La Cruz who were all integral parts of the team's California success. All-rounder Paul Voss could target a stage win in one of the hilly stages in the first part of the race while solid domestique Andreas Schillinger arrives after showing superb form in the Bayern Rundfahrt last week. The team is completed by time triallists Alexander Wetterhall and Jan Barta and the latter travels to France with a recent overall 3rd place in Bayern in his pocket.

 

General manager Ralph Denk knows that the Alpine race has a formidable line-up and so he hopes to see his team create a surprise somewhere along the course.

 

"We’ll be competing with the best riders on the team at the moment, the ones we’ve scored our victories with over the past weeks and the ones who have the skills to come through in the high mountains,” he said. “The so-called ‘mini Tour de France’ is a highlight for our team, alongside the Tour of California and the Vuelta a España. We’ll ride offensively, show what we’re capable of, and maybe even come up with a surprise. Just like the organizers know we can do."

 

“The stages are really difficult and not so suited for sprinters," sports director Enrico Poitschke added. "This tour is set up for riders who are good climbers. Therefore, we'll be competing with all of our mountain specialists. One of our riders, Leo Koenig, has it in him to score a good spot in the general classification.

If Jan Barta maintains his current form right down to the individual time trial, or can even improve on it, then he has a chance to finish in the top 10. Otherwise, we’ll try our luck in breakaway groups and keep an eye on a good stage result."

 

The Criterium du Dauphiné starts on Sunday with a road stage starting and finishing in Champery while the 32,5km time trial will take place on Wednesday.

 

Team NetApp-Endura for the Criterium du Dauphiné

Leopold König, Paul Voss, Bartosz Huzarski, Jose Mendes, David De La Cruz, Jan Barta, Alexander Wetterhall and Andreas Schillinger

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