By Gregor Brown
German team NetApp takes a step forward this year thanks to a secured ride in the 2012 Giro d'Italia. Yesterday, it was one of the four wild card teams the organiser invited to its May race.
Giro director, Michele Acquarone told La Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper that the decision to overlook some home teams was tough, "but we wanted to award youth and focus on Germany. We wanted to send a message abroad, to the only German team in the WorldTour and Professional Continental ranks, which also focuses on young cyclists."
At the Tour of Britain last year, the team placed third overall behind Lars Boom and Steve Cummings with Jan Barta. Czech Leopold König should lead the team in the Giro d'Italia, May 5 to 27. Last year, he finished second overall in the Tour of Austria.
NetApp is a global company, but has its headquarters in Sunnyvale, California. It produces computer hardware and software.
"The team showed a lot of interest in the Giro," continued Acquarone, "also has a great marketing project to relaunch cycling in Germany. We felt the need to give them a chance."
At the Giro, NetApp will race with Italian second division teams Androni Giocattoli, Colnago and Farnese Vini, and the 18 WorldTour teams including Sky.
Garzelli to retire?
The Giro d'Italia organiser overlooked team Acqua & Sapone when inviting its wild card squads. The team's Stefano Garzelli won the Giro in 2000 and the mountains classification in 2010 and 2011.
The 38-year-old Italian is now considering retiring and said, "Without the Giro, how will I find motivation to train?"
Hesjedal to lead Garmin's Giro team
Ryder Hesjedal will lead team Garmin-Cervélo at the Giro d'Italia this May.
According to reports from Australia, where he will race in the Tour Down Under, Hesjedal will have a chance in both the Giro d'Italia and the Tour de France this year.
Hesjedal finished seventh in the Tour in 2010 and 18th last year, he last raced the Giro d'Italia in 2008, finishing 60th.
Garmin will give him a chance to lead the team in the classification in Italy and have him as one of its captains in France this July.
GreenEDGE takes Aussie titles with Gerrans and Luke Durbridge
Team GreenEDGE's Simon Gerrans and Luke Durbridge won the Australian national titles this week.
Former team Sky rider, Gerrans won the road race after escaping with Sky's Richie Porte and Lampre's Matt Lloyd.
"Coming to the finish after a long tough race like that one with a time triallist and a climber, I knew I had a bit of a kick on me to finish off a race like that, so I was confident coming to the line," Gerrans said in a press release.
New Australian team, GreenEDGE took its first professional win thanks to Gerrans.
"It is such a great way to start a season with a new team and some big races here in Australia to get the season under way, I was really motivated to start the season in good shape," Gerrans said.
"This is such an honour, it is far and above one of my proudest moments in cycling and to be able to wear the green and gold through all the big races in Europe."
Gerrans is the only Australian to win stages in all three Grand Tours. His team-mate Durbridge won the time trial title two days later, seven seconds ahead of Cameron Meyer (GreenEDGE) and 16 seconds on Michael Rogers (Sky).
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