I N THE DROPS ZONE

Procycling - - PROLOGUE - So­phie Hur­com is sta f writer at Pro­cy­cling

Cy­cling is of­ten !illed with doom and gloom when it comes to spon­sors, or the lack thereof, in the sport. When Drops’s own­ers con!irmed it was in a !ight for sur­vival after a po­ten­tial new backer pulled the plug , the team looked des­tined to join the long list of squads who lost spon­sors and sub­se­quently folded.

But if ever you need a bit of faith in cy­cling re­in­stated, the fact a crowd­fund­ing cam­paign and out­pour­ing of sup­port from the pub­lic helped se­cure Drops’s fu­ture should do it. Like EF"Dra­pac a year ago, when the tra­di­tional spon­sors pulled out, Drops turned to their fans. In six weeks, £25,000 had been pledged by 199 back­ers – not enough to run a team, but, like EF, it gen­er­ated enough buzz that other part­ners were per­suaded Drops was worth their in­vest­ment.

Drops’s ap­peal, at least with me, is its ethos. Since it started in 2016, its aim has been to be­come the ‘most pro­fes­sional ama­teur team in the world.’ It never tried to be some­thing it was not. But signi!icantly, its abil­ity to pro­vide a path­way for young Bri­tish tal­ent into pro rac­ing is also why its sur­vival is so cru­cial. Drops is the only UCI-reg­is­tered Bri­tish squad in the women’s pelo­ton next year – 10 of its 13 riders this sea­son were Bri­tish, the ma­jor­ity U23 riders. The Bri­tish men have had a year to re­mem­ber in terms of re­sults in 2018, but for the women to keep get­ting their chance to do the same, teams like Drops have to, and must, con­tinue. Thank­fully the pub­lic and fans un­der­stood that, and now the spon­sors do, too.

SO­PHIE HUR­COM

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