Zwift, the global online fitness platform for cyclists, has confirmed Ella Harris as the winner of the third annual CANYON//SRAM Zwift Academy Program. Ella will be joining last year’s winner, Tanja Erath at the World Tour outfit, CANYON//SRAM Racing for the 2019 season.
Participation in the CANYON//SRAM Zwift Academy has continued to grow since the first iteration back in 2016. The 2018 edition saw 5,000 women take part, more than double the number the previous year. While completing the Zwift Academy is a challenge, Zwift adds that ‘many seize the opportunity simply to improve fitness through the 10 structured workouts, find new Zwift friends through the social rides, or even try their hand at racing for the first time.’
“What another fantastic year it’s been for the CANYON//SRAM Zwift Academy,” said Kate Veronneau, Women’s Zwift Academy Lead at Zwift. “While the champions of the Zwift Academy are the ones who grab the headlines, and rightly so, it’s important to highlight the thousands of women who took part in the 2019 Zwift Academy – many with very different objectives to the winner. It’s fantastic to be a part of such a community and championing women’s cycling.”
For a few, this is a unique opportunity to make it to the very top of the sport. This year saw Mary Wilkinson, Ione Johnson, and Ella Harris make it through to the Zwift Academy finals at the CANYON//SRAM end of season training camp in Málaga, Spain. All three women impressed, but it was Ella of New Zealand who emerged victorious.
“I can’t believe I did it! I’m so happy,” said Ella Harris. “I’ve followed Leah and Tanja and what they’ve achieved the past two years, and it’s inspired me to push myself during the academy this year. I entered hoping, and wanting, to win but when I heard my name called out, it was a feeling of complete shock! Now I’m going home to celebrate with my family and friends before focusing on training for my first year in the World Tour. It’s unbelievable.”
“Ella has been fantastic – huge congratulations!” added Eric Min, Zwift Co-Founder and CEO. “I’m extremely excited to see how she gets on in her first season at CANYON//SRAM at the World Tour level. Tanja did us proud last year and delivered on her potential out on the road. I’m sure she will serve as a great mentor to Ella throughout 2019.”
All three CANYON//SRAM Zwift Academy finalists had to undergo a strict series of workouts and races not only in the main draw, but also throughout the semi-final and final stages of the competition. Completing the workouts in Zwift gave the Academy’s panel of expert coaches the opportunity to look at each rider’s power profiles, allowing them to ascertain where each of the rider’s strengths and weaknesses lie.
The live finals meanwhile, provide an opportunity for the CANYON//SRAM team to watch how the female riders handle bikes on the road and interact with fellow riders.
“This is our third year with the Zwift Academy, so for us it’s a proven form of talent identification,” commented Ronny Lauke, CANYON//SRAM Racing Team Manager. “Leah proved herself to earn a contract renewal for 2018, and we’ve seen the same through Tanja this year. We’re delighted she has chosen to remain with us through 2019.”
“Ella is another great prospect who showed her all-round abilities during the week here in Málaga. No doubt she will learn a lot from next year on how to adapt to life as a professional rider away from home. I really look forward to welcoming Ella to the team and what she can do out on the road next season!”