Scott Thwaites' hopes of riding in the Tour de France soared today when he was included in the 14-man squad from which his team will select their final line-up.
NetApp-Endura are set to compete in the event for the first time when it starts in Leeds on July 5 and over the next four weeks the team management will choose nine riders who will tackle the world's top cycle race.
Burley-in-Wharfedale's Thwaites, who has been riding in the Tour of California, and Sam Bennett are the only two racers in the 14 who have nor previously ridden in the Tour de France.
If Thwaites is selected he will attract a lot of attention as a Yorkshire rider competing in his home county.
Thwaites said: "This is one step and I am pleased to be in the 14. We have 21 riders so it is good to know I have a chance.
"The team for the Tour de France is going to be announced after our next two races. I am racing in the teams that will be taking part in the Criterio du Dauphine and that will be my selection race, while another team is racing in Solvenia. I hope I can do enough to win one of the nine places."
NetApp–Endura is looking back on the most successful start to a season in its team history, which means it is optimally prepared for the Tour de France.
In addition to two victories, the team has already scored 11 further podium spots. "We're on a very good path. During the classics, the team showed that we have clearly improved in that area.
"At the stage races, we always gave top performances and we were contenders for good results," says Ralph Denk, Team NetApp – Endura's team manager.
With just six weeks to go before the start of the Tour de France, the team's goal is clearly defined. "We're aiming for a stage win and a Top15 position in the General Classification. Our goals are realistic and the entire team is already feeling self-confident because of that," Denk added.
The final squad depends in large part on how team captain Leo König continues to improve. "Selecting nine riders is not easy for us because at the moment we have a very broad spectrum on the team," said Denk.
"Leo is the team’s leader and his condition will determine what our Tour squad looks like. If he's in top shape, then he'll be given the full support of the team.
"On the other hand, if his preparation is further compromised by his knee problems, we’ll adjust our tactical plans. And that will have an impact on the squad. But the last couple of weeks have shown that the team can convert even that into results."
NetApp Endura squad: Jan Barta, Cesare Benedetti, Sam Bennett, Iker Camano, David de la Cruz, Zak Dempster, Bartosz Huzarski, Leopold König, Tiago Machado, José Mendes, Andreas Schillinger, Daniel Schorn, Scott Thwaites, Paul Voss