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by Shane Stokes
November 19, 2014
Having ridden the Tour de France this year and secured seventh place overall with Leopold Konig, the former NetApp Endura squad – which will be known by the new name of Bora – Argon 18 in 2015 – has said that targeting the race again next season is its top priority.
The squad is the sole German professional cycling team and with national terrestrial TV from that country tipped to return to the Tour next season after a long absence, the team would likely earn considerable publicity from, and for, the race.
It held a meeting at its home base in Bavaria today, outlining its plans to German media outlets while in the presence of the Tour de France race director Christian Prudhomme.
“We want to be back at the Tour de France next year,” said Bora Argon 18 team manager Ralph Denk. “We are trying very hard to get a wild card and are quite candid about our goal.
“It is thus a great honour to have Christian Prudhomme visiting our team in Bavaria today. The mere fact that he has made the effort underscores the Tour’s interest in Germany. And our team makes a small contribution to this.”
The team’s approach to the race may prove to be different to last July. Konig has moved to Team Sky, thus causing Bora – Aragon 18 to be without its key GC rider next season.
At the same time the leadout train has been strengthened by the signing of Shane Archbold; this could point towards the team targeting bunch gallops instead, most likely with its sprinter Sam Bennett.
Still, Denk believes that it might have a new GC rider. Dominik Nerz has come on board and was 14th and 18th in the past two editions of the Vuelta a España. It remains to be seen if he will be up to speed by 2015, or if it will take an additional season for the 25 year old to be able to chase that goal in the Tour.
Denk wants the team to build upon a prominent display last July. In addition to Konig’s seventh place overall, he was third on stage 13 to Chamrousse. Jan Barta finished third in the penultimate day time trial.
“We are the only ProConti team that was allowed to ride all three Grand Tours over the past three years,” Denk pointed out. “We reached the podium in all of these tours, surprised a lot of people with our performance and proved that we deserved to be invited.
“Now with Dominik Nerz we have signed one of Germany’s best tour riders to our team. He has the potential to develop into a top 10 rider in the overall rankings.”
It is anticipated that the Tour de France organisers ASO will announce the wildcard teams in January.