Zwift, the global online fitness platform for cyclists, has seen its first round of 2018 top graduates emerge from the Zwift Academy to move closer to a professional cycling contract with top ranked professional men’s and women’s teams – Team Dimension Data and CANYON//SRAM Racing.
The 20 semi-finalists, 10 under-23 men and 10 women from around the world, completed a structured program of group rides, races, and workouts over an eight week period, exclusively in the online cycling environment of Zwift. Starting on 15th October these 20 athletes will continue to the next round of cycling tests to determine who will advance to the finals at their potential team camps.
All Zwifters will be able to follow the journey of the semi-finalists and complete the semi-final workouts themselves. The Zwift workout sessions will be made available in game on Zwift from later this month.
This year has seen 5,000 women take part in the CANYON//SRAM Racing | Zwift Academy, over double the number of participants from 2018. For many, the Academy provides an opportunity to take part in a social global online training camp. Zwift notes that completing the 10 Workouts, Four Group Rides and Two Races is an achievement in itself. However, for a select few, the Academy is a seen as a unique opportunity to achieve a professional contract at the sport’s highest level.
Last year’s winner, Tanja Erath has just finished a successful season with the CANYON//SRAM World Tour team. Her first season saw her play an important role in races such as the Tour de Yorkshire and she even tasted success, wearing the sprinters jersey at the Tour Cycliste Féminin International de l’Ardèche; she took silver in scratch race at the German National Track Championships and also represented her country at the Lotto Belgium Tour.
“This season has been such a great experience,” said Tanja. “It’s a little crazy when I think back to competing in last year’s Academy on a borrowed trainer after a friend said I should give it a shot – I’m so glad I did! This year, it’s been fun to lead a few of the Zwift Academy rides and chat with some of the ladies taking part. I wish all the semi finalists all the best and encourage them to really seize this opportunity.”
The 10 CANYON//SRAM Racing | Zwift Academy Semi Finalists are:
Helen McKay, London, England
Ella Harris, Dunedin, New Zealand
Eva Buchholz Wiesbaden, Germany
Harriet Dodd Brighton, England
Elne Owen East London, South Africa
Ione Johnson Wellington, New Zealand
Laura Van Regenmortel Zoetermeer, Netherlands
Catherine Colyn Paarl, South Africa
Mary Wilkinson North Yorkshire, England
Nathalie Eklund Hagersten, Sweden
The 10 semi-finalists from the Team Dimension Data | Zwift Academy emerged from a staggering crop of 30,000 cyclists from across the globe. These riders will now compete to win one of three places at the Team Dimension Data training camp in South Africa, and ultimately a professional contract with their U23 development squad.
“For sure, this is something worth fighting for,” said Ollie Jones, winner of the 2017 Zwift Academy. “Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka U23 runs a really great program of races for a Continental Team allowing you to compete with the best young riders across Europe. Not only is this a great team to be a part of, but it’s also a great team to represent. Qhubeka strives to improve transportation in South Africa by supplying bikes to communities. This year Zwifters taking part in Zwift Academy have helped raise 326 bikes for the charity so far.”
The 10 Team Dimension Data | Zwift Academy Semi Finalists are:
Oliver Young, Auckland, New Zealand
Max Jones, Christchurch, New Zealand
Byron Munton, Cape Town, South Africa
Alex West, Palmerston North, New Zealand
Oliver Peckover, Nottingham, England
Martin Lavrič, Ljubjana, Slovenia
Bradley Gouveris, Port Elizabeth, South Africa
Hernan Silvera, San Carlos, Uruguay
Patrick Christopher, High Wycombe, England
Mathieu Vansteenkiste, Oostende, Belgium
CANYON//SRAM Racing | Zwift Academy riders will receive Wahoo KICKR trainers and Rapha kit while the Team Dimension Data | Zwift Academy Semi Finalists will each receive Elite Direto smart trainers. In addition, 20 twenty semi finalists will receive SoleStar KONTROL cycling insoles.
Following the end of the semi finals, 20 will become six. These six finalists (three from each program) will travel to their respective week-long team camps in Cape Town, South Africa, and Malaga, Spain to ride and complete structured drills with their prospective teams after which, two professional contracts will be awarded.