We appear to be in the midst of a golden period for women’s cycling: the emergence of the Canyon//SRAM team and its subsequent partnership with Rapha has shone a light on women’s road cycling in a way we haven’t really seen before.
In an effort to consolidate on this groundswell of support for the team and to harness the unprecedented interest in women’s cycling, Canyon//SRAM Racing has today announced an ambitious partnership with Zwift, the social fitness platform for cyclists.
During a live virtual group ride with Zwift users, Canyon//SRAM Racing rider Tiffany Cromwell declared the race was on to find a 2017 team mate, who would be identified, developed and launched into the pro peloton by her team & Zwift.
From March 2016, female amateur riders from all corners of the world will be invited to try out for a professional contract by riding Zwift in a winner takes all talent contest, more akin to Saturday night prime time television than the sometimes antiquated world of pro cycling.
“Unfortunately the development pathways for female riders don’t compare to the men’s side of the sport,” said Cromwell.
“But rather than swim against the tide, we’re taking the bull by the horns and shaking things up with Zwift. Cycling’s stars possess extraordinary physical attributes and we’re confident one or two of those rough diamonds are out there to be unearthed on the Zwift platform.”
Zwift and Canyon//SRAM performance staff are currently developing an initial series of tasks, likely to comprise of group rides and structured training programmes, to identify the physical attributes and potential of riders who enter the programme. The field will be reduced throughout 2016 until a final selection of three riders will compete on virtual and real roads for the opportunity to become a pro rider in 2017.
“This isn’t a marketing gimmick. Zwift is a global, reliable and data-driven platform,” offers Zwift CEO, Eric Min.
“We’re truly accessible and, with tens of thousands of users, we’re confident we can be a development platform for professional cycling. We’ve been working on a similar concept for some time so we were blown away when Canyon//SRAM Racing Director Ronny Lauke suggested it to us.”
“The world is full of young cyclists with raw talent that we may not be noticing,” added Lauke.
“That’s a huge problem for the sport and we want to challenge this as much as possible. Of course, there are other criteria to becoming a pro cyclist, like attitude, bike handling and a good tactical brain, but without an exceptional engine you won’t get too far. This is going to be an exciting adventure with Zwift.”
“With this team’s set of partners, anything is possible. I’m sure we’re about to see a truly unique story here, within the sport, as it springs from a disruptive, exciting program,” said Canyon Chief Brand Officer Frank Aldorf.
“Such a technology driven experience is a great match for our Canyon DNA and I am sure we will all be blown away by the talent it uncovers.”
“This program with Zwift and the Canyon//SRAM Racing team is a brilliant blend of technology and talent spotting. It’s one way to give young riders an opportunity that may have been overlooked before,” concluded SRAM Road Brand Director Christopher Zigmont.
The program, officially called: The Canyon//SRAM Racing & Zwift Academy Project will also be supported by team partners Rapha, Wahoo Fitness, Zipp and Quarq.