Drops kicked this month of with a truly brilliant weekend as the team travelled to Spain, hoping to build on some positive early-season performances. Made up of four stages including a Team Time Trial and three tough races in Gandia, Alicante and Valencia, Drops attacked Setmana Ciclista Valenciana with confidence.
First up was the Team Time Trial where the Drops riders went well to get the team off to steady start. Getting over the line in 7th, both DS, Paul Freeman and the six-rider team - made up of Ann-Sophie Duyck, Laura Massey, Martina Ritter, Anna Christian, Lizzie Holden and Rose Osborne - felt good going into stage two.
Little did the team know on the start line of the hilly 100km stage that the day would end in Drops’ best result of the season so far. The team showed great composure to take control of the race during the ascent of the first climb. Some great teamwork enabled Anna Christian to place well over the first climb and get herself in a breakaway with one other rider. But when the group was caught, Ann-Sophie Duyck launched an attack, followed closely by Cecillie Uttrup Ludwig from Cervelo Bigla. The two they stayed out in front until the finish line, where Ann-Sophie Duyck unleashed and incredible display of power to win the sprint and earn Drops’ first ever UCI race win.
“I’m so happy and proud of the win,” Ann-Sophie said after the race.
“Thanks to my family and friends and everyone who supports us.”
With Laura Massey placing in 8th too, it really was a superb outing for Drops who not only claimed the stage win and another top ten finish but also the queen of the mountain jersey.
The team had no time to revel in Ann-Sophie’s result as the next day they travelled to Alicante for the 87km third stage. Despite the final classification not reading quite as well as the previous one, Drops still put in another brilliant shift.
The riders did well to keep the leaders in the front of the race throughout the stage and controlled the main climb of the day which meant Ann-Sophie Duyck took the points in the queen of the mountain classification and secured that competition. A chaotic sprint made life difficult for Laura Massey who did extremely well to eventually cross the line in 13th.
“Although the course had a few smaller climbs in, this stage always looked destined to end in a large group sprint,” said Team Director, Tom Varney.
“And while this style of finish didn’t really suit our riders who were more suited to the climbs of stage two, we are once again delighted with the team’s performance and attitude."
By stage four, the riders had given it everything but a 94km circuit race around Valencia city awaited. Once again, our climbers weren’t suited to this style of racing but with the queen of the mountains competition sewn up, they went at it with everything. Despite some tired legs, the team managed to finish in the man group and round off a fantastic Setmana Ciclista Valenciana.
“Our riders rode very well and each day we set targets and achieved them,” said DS, Paul Freeman. “Ann-Sophie brings a new level of professionalism to the team, she is a world class rider on good form and we were delighted with her win.
“The results were great across all four stages, we’re really happy.”