NetApp-Endura target wildcard place in Tour de France in wake of Vuelta a Espana display
Last Updated: 14/01/14 2:14pm
Leopold Konig won a stage and finished ninth overall for NetApp-Endura at last year's Vuelta a Espana
NetApp-Endura have made earning a wildcard place in the Tour de France their top priority for 2014.
The German team, who compete on the Pro Continental Tour, cycling's second tier, are keen to follow up their Grand Tour debut at last year's Vuelta a Espana with a first appearance at the world's biggest race.
The Tour de France is contested by 22 teams, with the 18 UCI WorldTour teams being supplemented by four invited teams.
The wildcards are traditionally handed to French squads, but after Europcar were promoted to the top-tier WorldTour for 2014 and Sojasun folded, two or more spots are potentially open for newcomers.
Team manager Ralph Denk said: "The Tour de France is the target we have definitively set for ourselves. With our successes at the Vuelta a Espana, we showed just what potential this team has.
"Year by year we have set ourselves ever higher targets and have always backed this up with results. Consequently, we should now strive to participate in the biggest race of the year."
NetApp-Endura impressed at the Vuelta, with Czech rider Leopold Konig winning a stage and finishing ninth overall, and several other riders maintaining an almost constant presence for the team in breakaways.
Following their positive showing, they are in a strong position to earn a Tour invite, but they will face competition from the likes of IAM Cycling, who enjoyed an impressive season in 2013 and recruited French favourite Sylvain Chavanel over the winter.
NetApp-Endura have three Britons on their roster: Erick Rowsell, Jonathan McEvoy and Scott Thwaites, who is from Yorkshire, where the Tour will start on July 5 and 6.