Zwift, the global online fitness platform for cyclists, has today unveiled Jessica Pratt as the winner of the fourth CANYON//SRAM Zwift Academy Program. Having secured a professional cycling contract for the 2020 season, Jessica will now join past Zwift Academy winners, Ella Harris and Tanja Erath at CANYON//SRAM Racing for the 2020 season.
“The vision for Zwift Academy was to revolutionise professional cycling by introducing an entirely new means of identifying talent,” said Eric Min, Zwift CEO and Co-Founder. “2020 will see three former winners take to the World Tour with CANYON//SRAM Racing, proving the program has been a resounding success. I wish Jessica the very best in her first year as a professional – she is certainly in the right place to receive the best support and guidance.”
“I’d say we got lucky with finding Ella and Tanja, but that really isn’t true,” added Ronny Lauke, CANYON//SRAM Racing Team Manager. “Finding incredible talent – which these riders have in spades – is exactly what the Zwift Academy does. I know we have another great talent this year in Jessica, and look forward to watching her contribute to the team in her first World Tour season.”
A theme has emerged from the Zwift Academy over the past four years. Year on year, the Southern Hemisphere has continued to deliver a wealth of talent in the Zwift Academy finals and semi-finals. This year, all three finalists came from the Southern Hemisphere, and Australia’s Jessica Pratt will join New Zealand’s Ella Harris at CANYON//SRAM next season.
“For us in the Southern Hemisphere, the Zwift Academy arguably presents an even bigger opportunity than for those in Europe, North America and Asia,” said 2019 Zwift Academy Winner Jessica Pratt. “For me personally, I was incredibly hungry for it. It can be a very difficult route to the professional peloton when compared to the opportunities available to riders living in cycling’s homeland – Europe.
“The cost of travel alone can make things very difficult when living in Australia. To have come through and win is life changing for me – I’m so, so happy!”
Zwift Academy is more than just a talent identification program. For many, it’s a community training program, and one that has always looked to help encourage cycling participation amongst women.
Zwift adds that enrolment in the program continues to grow year on year. The 2019 Zwift Academy saw just shy of 9,000 women take part, an 80% increase over 2018. While only one may emerge with a professional contract, the remaining women who take part are able to ‘benefit from increased in fitness resulting from the 8 workouts and four group rides or races it takes to graduate.’