(Philadelphia, PA) January 29, 2014 – Fuji Bikes will line up at the start of one of the biggest sporting events in the world, and Team NetApp-Endura will get their chance at the most coveted jersey in all of cycling, as the ASO officially extended the Fuji-sponsored German pro-continental squad a wildcard invitation to the 2014 Tour de France Tuesday.
“A dream comes true. We have worked toward this news since the first day of the team’s founding,” said NetApp-Endura Manager Ralph Denk of the team established in 2010. “That our wish has now become reality is overwhelming and has put the whole team into a euphoric mood. We could not have hoped for better news shortly before our season opening. We can thus gear the entire first half of the season toward this big event and start in Leeds in top form with the best riders.”
The 101st edition of the legendary 3-week, 21-stage race will begin in Leeds, England on July 5th. NetApp’s Tour de France debut will mark Fuji’s 2nd appearance in the sport’s biggest grand tour. The more than century-old brand’s first appearance came in 2010 with Footon-Servetto – where Rafael Valls finished 2nd in Stage 7 aboard his Fuji SST.
While Fuji’s pro teams were not invited to the Tour de France over the past three years, Fuji won its first-ever grand tour in 2011 with Juan Jose Cobo’s victory at the Vuelta a España, as well as earned two Vuelta stage wins, a Vuelta GC Top 10, and a Giro d’ Italia GC Top 10.
“We are ecstatic to have Fuji on the world stage again, racing in not only the most prestigious event in cycling but one of the greatest sporting events across the globe,” said Fuji Sponsorship Manager Milay Galvez. “And we are over-the-moon elated for such a deserving group of riders and staff, who we are proud to have come to know and who have played an integral role in shaping our products. They proved they belong among the best – particularly at last year’s Vuelta.”
NetApp-Endura was issued a wildcard invite to the 2013 Vuelta a España, where Tour of California Stage 7 winner Leo König pulled off a gutsy Stage 8 victory aboard his Fuji Altamira, as well as finished 9th in the GC for a Top 10 in his first-ever grand tour. Teammate Bartosz Huzarski also tallied a podium finish in Stage 16.
When asked whether he could score another Grand Tour GC Top 10, König told Cycling News last week, “I don’t see anything to say that we can’t do it again. I am confident about the Top 10.” Teammate Zak Dempster, who already has a 2014 victory to his name with his win at the Mitchelton Bay Cycling Classic earlier this month, told Cycling News, “If we were to get into another Grand Tour this year, then we will be aiming really high. When we go to a race, we are there to race, not to get a tan. I see no reason why we couldn’t win a stage.”
“This team has so much talent. With Leo’s breakout year last year, the Czech National Road & TT Champ Jan Barta, the addition of 2-time Portuguese U23 national TT champ Tiago Machado – we can’t wait to see what they’ll do this season and especially in July,” said Galvez.
NetApp-Endura will race Fuji’s top-of-the-line Altamira SL frameset this season, with Oval Concepts, Shimano, and Vittoria components. The Altamira, which has amassed 12 professional victories and dozens of podiums since its inception in 2011, will therefore make its Tour de France debut – along with the Norcom Straight: Fuji’s new time trial/triathlon bike that earned more than 10 professional victories since its launch last May.