Scotland-based Endura Racing has confirmed that it is to merge with the German UCI Professional Continental team NetApp at the end of the season.
Last month, it was reported that Endura, sponsored by the eponymous cycle clothing brand, had been aiming to secure Professional Continental status in its own right but was unable to raise the required sponsorship.
That meant that merging with an existing second flight team was the only way the outfit, managed by former British road race champion and now regular TV pundit Brian Smith, could move up from its present UCI Continental classification.
The new team will be known as Team NetApp-Endura, with both sponsors having signed up for a two-year period through to the end of 2014.
Eight riders from Endura will be moving across to the merged team, which will have a total complement of 20 including new signings and an unspecified number of NetApp riders.
The Endura riders making the switch, according to French website Velochrono, are ex-Team Sky man Russell Downing, fellow Britons Scott Thwaites, Erick Rowsell and Jonny McEvoy, Spain’s Iker Camaño, the German rider Paul Voss, the Australian Zak Dempster and possibly French rider Alexandre Blain.
One current Endura rider who won’t be part of the new set-up, however, is Jonathan Tiernan Locke, whose high profile victories in several races this season have attracted the attention of some of the sport’s biggest teams, with Team Sky rumoured to be favourite to sign him. Endura have already confirmed he will be leaving.
Jim McFarlane, Director of Endura, commented: “ 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.”
Team NetApp is now racing in its third season and participated in its first Grand Tour this year when it competed in the Giro d’Italia. Team manager Ralph Denk said: “ 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. 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.”
Endura Racing currently use Giant frames, while NetApp’s bikes are supplied by Austria’s Simplon. It has already been announced that the merged team will be switching to the US-owned Fuji brand for the next two seasons.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.