Drops Cycling announced on Thursday that they have been invited to compete at the OVO Energy Women's Tour, which takes place from June 10-15. After an unstable off-season due to sponsorship changes, Drops Cycling welcomed the coveted invitation to their home Women's WorldTour event, and they will be the only British team competing.
"We are all thrilled to have received a wildcard invitation to the OVO Energy Women's Tour this summer. It will be our fourth successive appearance at this prestigious race and we are all super motivated to repay Mick Bennett and the team at SweetSpot for the faith they have shown in our project since our inception," team owner Bob Varney said in a press release.
"We feel that we have always made a positive contribution to the race, particularly in the last two editions, and are determined to continue to do so as we showcase the very best of young British talent at the very highest level.
"The OVO Energy Women's Tour is the blue ribbon event in the world and we are extremely honoured to have opportunity to be part of it yet again – bring it on!"
In the 2017 edition, the team's British rider Alice Barnes placed sixth overall, while Dutch rider Eva Buurman finished in the top 20 of all five stages and finished in eighth overall last year.
The team's 2019 roster features Olympic champion Elinor Barker and European Championships medallist Manon Lloyd.
Drops Cycling experienced setbacks beginning midway through last season when title sponsor Trek ended their involvement with the programme and launched their own team, Trek-Segafredo, alongside the men's WorldTour squad.
Varney's team launched a crowdfunding campaign that raised more than €25,000 in private donations and then later announced sponsorship deals with Cannondale and Le Col, which combined to secure the team's future for two seasons. They launched their new-look 'colour the road' kits in February.
Drops Cycling are not ranked among the top 15 teams in the world and so they do not receive automatic invitations to compete in Women’s WorldTour races, and instead rely on wildcard invitations from event organisers. The team have also been invited to compete at series events Gent-Wevelgem on March 31 and Tour of California Women’s Race from May 16-18.
The 2019 OVO Energy Women's Tour will mark its sixth edition and the organisers offer equal prize money compared to the men's Tour of Britain. The peloton will compete for €97,880 in 2019 – up from €89,999 last year.
The race will be made up of six stages, one more than the previous year. Although not all of the stages have been announced yet, the organisers have revealed that stage 1’s 157.6km race will be held from Beccles to Stowmarket and stage 3 will be held from South Oxon to Blenheim Palace.
"We are delighted to have been granted a sixth day of racing for the OVO Energy Women's Tour to build upon the success of the first five editions," said race director Mick Bennett in the announcement last fall.
"Teams and riders have been asking us to extend the event and to broaden the range of stages, which the flexibility of a sixth day will enable us to do."