Last years’ 2016 Tour Series saw a massive disappointment for Drops when, leading the team standings in the final race, two riders crashed on the final lap of the final race of the city centre criterium series. The resulting chaos was enough to cost the team their overall victory and, as Rebecca told us, “Made for a totally silent journey home.”
For 2017, the series is back with more races, bigger crowds and, due to the fast pace of development of women’s cycling in the UK, an even stronger field. With Drops entering a team in to California and the Basque country in parallel with the nine race series, maintaining the consistency, freshness and focus required to make amends for 2016’s disappointment would be even more challenging. Drops served notice of their intent in Redditch and the very first race of the Tour Series with a solo win from Alice Barnes, distancing the chasing pair of Kate Archibald and Elinor Barker by 40 seconds and showing the form earned in the spring Classics. Rebecca Durrell led the bunch sprint for 4th a minute down and strong performances from Lucy Shaw and Annie Simpson in 7th and 12th were enough to give Drops a narrow lead in the team rankings over team WNT. It was a lead that they were not to relinquish for the rest of the series. Round 2 in Stoke On Trent finished in a hectic sprint with Rebecca 3rd and Annie and Lucy also making the top ten in 5th and 7th. Annasley Park, on her debut for the team, finished a strong 15th ensured Drops’ lead over WNT remained at just one point. With the battle for the team prize heating up, the series headed to Northwich in Cheshire for Round 3. A tough race saw Emily Nelson edge out Alice for the individual win, with Rebecca in 7th and Abi van Twisk and Annie Simpson also making the top 20. This consistency amongst the team saw them extend their lead slightly in the team competition and retain the red leaders jerseys.
The fourth race of the series saw a fast criterium circuit established around London’s Wembley Park, including a sweep past the famous stadium and a drag race with a dead turn up and down its famous approach on Wembley Way. Alice and Rebecca once again showed the form that had placed them at the front of earlier rounds to finish 2nd and 4th with Annasley rounding out the top ten. Wembley also saw Rebecca Durrell move into the lead of the individual rankings ahead of Emily Nelson.
Round 5 stayed in London with the evenings racing moved to Croydon. Again, Alice and Rebecca were consistently excellent in 5th and 7th, but Annasley was the stand out performer for Drops securing 3rd place behind a Storey Cycling 1-2 of Elizabeth Jane Harris and Neah Evans. A long trip north awaited the riders and staff before the penultimate round of the series with a circuit aroud the Lanarkshire town of Motherwell. A select group of seven clipped off the front of the race to contest the victory with Durrell narrowly edged into second by Eileen Roe for her second victory in a row. Annasley also placed 5th in the group with Abby Mae Parkinson placing 15th 32s back. The consistency across the seven rounds now gave Drops a lead of fifty points over WNT going into the final race with Rebecca Durrell thirty four points clear of Annasley in the individual standings.
With Drops dominating the standings so convincingly, it would be easy to understand the team taking a defensive approach to the final race of the series in Stevenage. However, with the finale of last year’s series in their minds, there was no let up from Drops on the night. A 1-2 of Rebecca Durrell, sealing her individual series win, and Lucy Shaw, overcoming a training crash to take second, ensured that the team extended their lead in the series and got to enjoy a champagne moment on the final podium in their red jerseys. As a bonus, Annasley Park finished second in the individual rankings.