Following its immensely successful 2016 pilot, Zwift has announced that the Zwift Academy will return in 2017, with ambitious participation targets and the introduction of eRacing. The Academy will also run in continued partnership with CANYON//SRAM racing.
The initiative, which invites participants to try out for a UCI World Tour pro contract by riding Zwift, is aiming to triple registrations in 2017 and create the world’s largest community of female cyclists.
The announcement coincides with 2016 Zwift Academy winner, Leah Thorvilson, joining her new CANYON//SRAM teammates and management in Adelaide for the start for the 2017 UCI World Tour season.
“Zwift has showed itself as a credible talent identification platform and the 2016 Zwift Academy proved that CANYON//SRAM Racing were committed to adding a new dimension to women’s cycling in their very first season”, says Ronny Lauke, Canyon//SRAM Racing Team Manager.
“Our Year 2 program will build on what we achieved in 2016 by delivering new angles to boost registrations and benefits for all participants.”
Zwift and Canyon//SRAM are planning to more than triple participation in 2017 by attracting over 3,600 female cyclists to take part and graduate from the Zwift Academy program.
“Zwift Academy became famous when Leah Thorvilson earned a UCI World Tour contract but the very notion of an academy meant everyone should benefit” adds CANYON//SRAM rider Tiffany Cromwell.
“In 2016 the Zwift Academy brought together a global community of female cyclists who supported and encouraged each other regardless of ability level or experience on the bike. The best thing was that any female cyclist could take part and benefit, whether they were a newbie, an enthusiast or a racer. I’m looking forward to seeing this inclusive vibe go from strength to strength in 2017”.
Registrations for Year 2 of the Zwift Academy are expected to open in June, with the qualification phase starting in September. In keeping with the 2016 program, participants will be tasked to complete a range of group rides, training rides and structured training programs. The biggest change for 2017 will be the introduction of eRacing to the semi-final stage in November.
“eSport is coming to cycling and Zwift is leading the charge. Introducing a racing component to Zwift Academy provides the judges with another important evaluation component” said Eric Min, Zwift founder & CEO.
“Zwift Academy racing will be an ideal testing ground for measuring and gauging new talent in a fair, effective, competitive environment.”
Min also revealed Zwift are in talks to establish a CANYON//SRAM eRacing development team for the 2018 season. “This is a natural progression for Zwift and CANYON//SRAM Racing. This new and unique project will ease many of the budget constraints in women’s cycling by allowing rider talent to be developed online, in many geographies, and within a team structure.”
Three 2017 Zwift Academy finalists will be invited to the Canyon//SRAM Racing team camp at the end of 2017.