Zwift, the global online training platform for cyclists, has today launched year four of Zwift Academy, the platform’s mass participation training and talent ID program. Enrolment is open from today, with the action set to run from August 5th to September 29th.
Since the program first launched in 2015, the Zwift Academy has seen strong growth year on year – with 35,000 men and women taking part last year.
2019 is expected to see the trend continue, with Zwift expecting to see 100,000 people enrol in this year’s Zwift Academy. For some, this is a unique opportunity to earn a professional cycling contract, but for many more, it’s a unique community-based program that encourages its community to not only get fitter and faster, but also to have fun along the journey.
To graduate, Zwifters must complete a series of 8 Workouts and 4 Races or Social Rides. This is a slight change from previous years, to allow Zwifters to tailor the program to their own personal preferences or goals.
Once again, those enrolled in the Zwift Academy are incentivised to continue to progress with special in-game unlocks for completing each quarter of the program.
- At 25%, Zwifters will unlock the unique Zwift Academy Socks in game;
- At 50% Zwift Academy Shoes;
- At 75% the Zwift Academy Cap; and
- For those who graduate, the complete Zwift Academy Kit.
For those who continue to complete an additional 4 Social Rides or Races, extra credit will be awarded – a unique Zwift Academy paint job applicable to the BMC SLR01 for the Men, and to the Canyon Ultimate for the Women.
“Mass participation is a huge part of what Zwift Academy is,” said Zwift Co-Founder and CEO, Eric Min. “The Zwift Academy has been an incredibly successful tool for uncovering hidden talent, and I’ve enjoyed watching how previous winners and semi-finalists have progressed. However, for most of us, it’s a fantastic opportunity to come together, train and share our experiences. Zwift Academy really brings our community together.”
Once again Zwift has pledged to donate one Qhubeka bike for every 10 graduates of the Men’s Zwift Academy, with the ambition of seeing at least 10,000 men graduate the program this year.
“Zwift has been incredibly supportive of the Qhubeka cause,” said Doug Ryder, Team Principal for Team Dimension Data. “Every year, we travel to Cape Town for our end of season camp and get to hand over the bikes to the community, and it’s incredible to see how much of a difference basic transport can make to the lives of those people.”
Over the last three years, Zwift Academy has been a proven tool for discovering hidden talent. Once again in 2019, two professional cycling contracts are up for grabs with Women’s World Tour team, CANYON//SRAM Racing, and the U23 Men’s Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka Continental Team.
“Zwift Academy has helped me realise my dream, and I’m living it right now,” said 2019 Zwift Academy Winner, Ella Harris. “I grew up in New Zealand where it’s incredibly hard to get noticed as we are so far removed from the professional scene – especially that in Europe. Typically, I would have to travel long distances to races.
“However, Zwift allowed me to prove my ability on a global stage from the convenience of my home. It’s not been easy to adjust to a new life and the professional peloton, but I’m happy with my progress so far.”
Ronny Lauke, CANYON//SRAM Sports Director, added “It’s not only a great opportunity for the riders, but also for the teams. It’s not always easy to discover emerging talent, but Zwift has allowed us to discover riders who might not have otherwise appeared on our radar. Previous winners, Tanja [Erath] and Leah [Thorvilson] both had successful sporting backgrounds in other spheres, so obviously hadn’t followed the traditional path to the pro peloton.
“Tanja has been proving herself on the World Tour Stage once again this year, recently winning the sprinters classification at Emakumeen Bira.”
All those enrolled in Zwift Academy will be offered free premium access to the online training platform Today’s Plan for the duration of the Zwift Academy. In addition to getting the full suite of tools and analytics of Today’s Plan, Zwifters will be able to see how they stack up against their age group and the overall competition.
All those in the hunt for the pro cycling contracts must sign up to Today’s Plan.
This year, all semi-finalists will receive a Tacx Neo 2 Smart Trainer, for the next phase of testing in the competition. Zwift Academy semi-finalists will then be announced in early October.