Endura -> Netapp

Recently the news was confirmed that Team NetApp will extend and welcome Endura as a second name sponsor through to the end of 2014.

This is seen as a merger in many quarters but to me it looks a bit more more like the closure of the Endura Racing team with sponsorship, resources and some of the bigger name riders moving to the German squad.

Finance in pro cycling is tough as it is in many other areas of business right now, and I’m sure this decision wasn’t taken lightly- if Endura Racing had been able to secure a big sponsor to meet its ambition to gain Pro Continental status then I’m sure it would have continued.

However it does raise a few questions:

Who are the 8 riders? One presumes it will be the bigger names that have raced the European circuit this year but this is just speculation. Paul Voss is German so that is an obvious fit and we may see the likes of Camano, Mandri, Wetterhall and Dempster but hopefully there will be some UK riders moving up too. Bibby’s future is uncertain, and you’d expect riders who have focused more on the UK calendar like Wilkinson and McEvoy to be looking for new squads but there are some talented young riders like Rowsell and Thwaites.

Photo: Ian Bibby, Tour Series Kirkcaldy by Larry Hickmott | www.VeloUK.net

What about the riders who are left? Hopefully they can all find teams, and this announcement has come relatively early on. Brian Smith is good at moving riders from team to team and has hinted that Endura needs a presence in the UK so maybe a low level sponsorship or involvement in one of the domestic squads will remain. I’ve seen it mentioned that Endura still need a presence in the UK and they have been incredibly successful in the Tour Series and Premier Calendar this year.

John Tiernan Locke’s future is unconfirmed but everybody thinks he’ll be moving to Sky. I joked today that Netapp were working to help Endura pull back the break in the Tour of Britain, because maybe they would benefit from Locke’s points next year, but he has said he is expecting to join a World Tour team. It will be interesting to see where he goes and how he develops.

Most importantly: what colour will the kit be? I have enjoyed the black and lime green and it would be a shame if this disappears but I would expect it to be different.

It will be great to see a Scottish-backed outfit moving onwards and upwards to European level, but I can’t help but feel this is the end of an era for a team that has its genesis in a local shop team from Pedal Power in West Calder. There’s a sad tinge but also expectancy for the future.

Photo by Joolze Dymond | www.joolzedymond.com

Below is the news in full:

The highest ranked German professional cycling team, Team NetApp, will be racing under the name “Team NetApp – Endura” starting the coming season.

The main sponsor NetApp, a leading provider of innovative storage and data management solutions, has extended its commitment through to the end of 2014. The new co-sponsor, Endura, a British technical cycle clothing brand, has also signed up with the Pro Continental team for the coming two years. There have also been changes to the team’s racing bike supplier: “Team NetApp – Endura” will in future be riding on bikes made by Fuji which is owned by the American company Advanced Sports.

The successful core of the team remains unchanged: German license and riders that have ridden for Team NetApp since it was set up or have been mainstays during the current season. They will be united with eight riders from Continental Team Endura Racing to become members of “Team NetApp – Endura”. Together with further new appointments, the squad will then comprise 20 riders. The Team’s management and sport direction will be strengthened, too with support staff from both teams involved in Team NetApp – Endura for 2013.

“We have undergone a sporting development that is virtually unprecedented. 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”, said Ralph Denk, Team Manager of Team NetApp.

“We are excited to extend our commitment to Team NetApp – Endura through 2014 and to expand the visibility of the sponsorship worldwide as we activate our involvement in North America and Asia-Pacific in addition to EMEA”, said Amy Love, vice president of Brand and Communications at NetApp. “The team’s success over the past three years, and the ways our customers and channel partners engaged with the cycling community serve as key reasons for our sponsorship expansion. The Team NetApp – Endura professional cycling team is an outstanding platform to express how NetApp enables our partners and clients businesses to go further, faster.”

“That we have been able to resign NetApp and secure Endura as a key new partner is a milestone in the history of our team. NetApp’s commitment to the team’s success has been fundamental to our achievements and bringing Endura onboard as an ambitious brand that deserves to be presented at the most important races in the world. I am convinced that together we will be even more successful“, Denk continued.

“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. 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. Perhaps more importantly, we will be giving some of our existing riders the chance to ride at the highest level whilst continuing to work with them, and the whole team, on product development and testing”, said Jim McFarlane, Director of Endura Ltd