by James Johnston
The director of newly formed women's road racing team, Drops Cycling Team, says he hopes to emulate professional outfits, albeit on the budget of an amateur team.
Having been formed at a very precise time, Tuesday September 8, 2015 at 10pm to be exact, while team director Bob Varney was driving back from a race in the Ardeche, it is hoped the team can provide young British riders an alternative route into professional cycling away from the Great Britain set-up.
Although the team is relatively new to the world of cycling - it was only granted UCI accreditation in January - there is no lack of ambition within their operation.
"We want to be the most professional women’s amateur team. That came about because our research told us that about 75% of the pro teams are not really pro teams, they don’t get paid, they only get given a bike and kit and then get taken to races," Varney told Cycling Weekly.
"So we thought it was a little hypocritical of us to rock up and expect to be a pro team."
With a roster of riders on board and sponsors to boot, the team now have a very clear vision of how they will approach the 2016 racing season.
“Our goals are very different to what a genuine pro team would be. We’re bottom of the road rankings, we’re on zero points, but we have a structure in place which has been well thought out," added Varney.
"We’re looking to win races in the UK and then we’re looking to target foreign races with different levels of achievement.
"We’re under no illusions, we’re not going to rock up at a UCI race and be at the front end of the race."
Formed of a predominantly British contingent, including Laura Massey, the current British Masters Champion, and Louise Robinson, a three-time national cyclocross champion, there is an abundance of quality within the ranks.
Combined with junior talent such as Ellie Dickinson and Lucy Shaw, the team will by no means be out of their depth when they take to the start line in March.
"Their not being parachuted into a war-zone. They all have experience of elite level races and they can all cruise around the British elite races. They need to be pushed and there’s no better way then going over and being pushed with the pros is there."
Such a rapid transformation from a rough idea in Varney's mind through to becoming a full fledged team, Drops Cycling Team have already encountered some unforgettable moments in their brief but busy history. None more so than when Varney gained his UCI sports director accreditation.
“I went to UCI and took the course which is a story in itself. You’ve got Ivan Basso in the front row, Yaroslav Popovych in the back row and they're just two naughty kids in class. These are guys I watched on TV for the last 10-15 years. I had to keep inching myself it was surreal but in a very nice way."
Due to be officially unveiled at the London Bike Show next week, make sure to keep an eye out for Drops Cycling Team. There could be some big moments ahead.