Drops are on the rise under new name Le Col Wahoo

New sponsors and new WorldTour ambitions for the British squad that once faced closure

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After seven years in the pro peloton, women’s Continental squad Drops have become Le Col Wahoo with Le Col significantly bolstering their backing of the team and the fitness technology company Wahoo coming on as a new title sponsor.

Drops first emerged in their iconic multicolour kit in 2015 and have since become a fixture of the women’s peloton. Their knack of nurturing British talent coupled with their commitment to establishing a positive team environment has cemented their reputation as one of the best Continental squads on the scene with established WorldTour riders such as Tayler Wiles and Alice Barnes cutting their teeth with the squad.

But it hasn’t been all smooth sailing. At the end of 2018, the continuation of the team was in question as a result of financial struggles. Team founders Bob and Tom Varney were forced to set up a crowdfunding campaign which eventually saved their future thanks to the generosity of donors.

Since then, the team fortified their programme with talented riders and a newly-instated rider wellness scheme. Indeed 2021 was the most successful season for Drops in recent years and saw the team climb from 39th to 16th in the UCI world ranking. 

Amongst some of the team’s top results in 2021 include Joscelin Lowden taking the women’s Hour Record and winning the Tour de Feminin by over six minutes, and Marjolein Van ‘t Geloof riding to 13th place in the inaugural Paris Roubaix Femmes. Lowden’s successful season caught the eye of the newly-established Uno-X Women’s team for whom she signed a two-year deal at the end of last year. 

Despite holding UCI status since 2016, the team remained at the Continental level after the introduction of the two-tier system in 2020. However, co-founder and general manager Tom Varney has been transparent about his ambitions for the team to reach the WorldTour by 2023, and, with the new sponsor commitments, Le Col Wahoo appears to be on track to achieve WorldTeam status.

The UCI will allow space for fifteen Women’s WorldTeams in 2023 and there are currently 14 teams holding WorldTeam status in 2022 –  meaning Drops may have competition for the last remaining spot next season. Nevertheless, Varney is committed to growing the team’s stature. 

“We’re delighted to see both Le Col and Wahoo come together to back the team’s development and move us towards our goal of being the best in the world,” Varney is quoted as saying in a team press release. “We believe both Le Col and Wahoo are leaders of their respective fields and their support will be integral to the team and its riders getting to the WorldTour in 2023.” 

Although Wahoo is well established within cycling for their accessories including bike computers, indoor trainers and more, this is their first venture into taking up title sponsorship of a professional racing team. 

“In parallel with the original mission of the Drops professional cycling team, Wahoo’s purpose is to build the better athlete in all of us, and nowhere is that better displayed than with this partnership,” said Wahoo CEO Mike Saturnia. “Women’s racing provides some of the most exciting bike racing for viewers and it deserves a much bigger platform to exhibit the riders talents and skills. We aim to aid the team in qualifying for the Tour de France Femmes in 2022 and share their ambition of becoming a World Tour team in 2023. Together we can bring women’s cycling to a larger audience and inspire new generations of female cyclists.” 

After a – now distant – tumultuous past, the new backing from Le Col and Wahoo gives the team and its riders security in their futures and allows them to focus on developing talent long-term. Five riders are already signed with the squad until 2023 including young British talents Flora Perkins, Alice Towers, and Eluned King. With a newly-fortified roster and more backing from sponsors the team formerly known as Drops are on the rise.

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