Drops were delighted to be invited to both The Women’s Tour and Tour of California in 2016. This year, we are equally pleased having had our place on the start line confirmed once more.
With the Drops’ current position, entry to these races is not guaranteed, as Team Director, Tom Varney explained: “For the World Tour races the organisation have to invite the twenty highest ranked teams.
“Being just outside the top twenty means that we are unable to plan our calendar as early as some other teams. Despite this we’ve made some great progress and have a fantastic race calendar with only Amstel Gold the only World Tour race in the first part of the season not to invite us – it’s great for us to say that we’ll be racing the majority of World Tour races.”
Drops will have the advantage of experience when they return to the races this season. Tom is confident that the knowledge gained from 2016 will play into our rider’s hands this time out.
“We learnt lessons from both races on and off the bike so we’re looking forward to having another crack,” he said.
“The Women’s Tour especially - it is on our home turf so it’s great that friends, family and fans can watch on the roadside. There’s a really good atmosphere at that race and we’re proud that GB racing is leading the way on the world stage.
“Whether it’s knowing the area we’re driving in, the HQ car park, where the climbs are – it’s all more relaxed and there isn’t the ‘not knowing’ part.
The World Tour Series is the ultimate test for any team and allows you to firmly make your mark on the UCI rankings should you be successful. So is Tom confident in the composure of the squad this year?
“With the step up we’ve made over the winter there is going to be more pressure of the riders to perform but the most pressure they receive is from themselves,” he said.
“They are a tight knit group and react well together and I’m sure this will continue into 2017. We will be heading back to races we raced last year and this gives the riders more of an advantage than last year, knowing the course, where the climbs are, where the wind might be coming from.”
Big races like these are not just good for the experience of the team and its riders. Team Partners will also benefit from the added buzz around the World Tour Series as viewer numbers increase and excitement builds.
“Theoretically, the higher the classification of the race the larger the coverage,” Tom said.
“This means that sponsors gain more exposure too, not just in the media but also at the races themselves. On the ground crowds are larger at these races, so it gives sponsors a chance to interact with cycling fans before and after the races.”
Despite the growing Drops reputation, the team will still be going in to the World Tour races as underdogs. It’s important to keep expectations realistic and Tom explains that the team aren’t we being too strict with targets.
“We’ve spoken before about what our goals are and we haven’t really picked anything specific. Each rider has their goals for individual races and they have their calendar set out for the season already.
“As a team we’d like to continue to achieve things we’ve not achieved before, whether that’s certain riders racing their first UCI race, or certain riders gaining their first UCI top ten. New goals such as podium at World Tour level or win a .1 or .2 race are also on the list – we’d love to win a UCI race.”
“A big result in any race lifts the team. You don’t achieve big results without racing as a team so when we gain results it’s definitely a team effort. It’s a lift to the team because it shows what is achievable.”