Zwift academy

FeaturedNews

Zwift Academy opens its doors to male riders with a Team Dimension Data professional contract up for grabs

m-feature-3
views
3108

Zwift, the global online training platform, has announced an expansion of Zwift Academy into men’s cycling with a Team Dimension Data professional contract offered to the overall winner.

Enrolment for the Team Dimension Data Zwift Academy is now officially open here.

On 1st September, all graduates of the 2017 Team Dimension Data Zwift Academy will unlock charitable donations to Qhubeka, funded by Zwift. Top performing graduates aged under 22 years will then progress to battle it out for a pro-contract on the Team Dimension Data Continental Squad for 2018.

Team Dimension Data Zwift Academy

Phase 1 of the Academy consists of a six week structured training programme designed by elite coaches and a roster of group rides and races. From an anticipated pool of over 5,000 successful graduates, ten top U23 riders will be selected to complete an additional two weeks of riding and training. From this group, three top finalists will continue to the Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka November training camp in Cape Town, South Africa, where one will earn the opportunity to race with the Continental Squad in 2018.

“Zwift has proven itself to not only be a rigorous data and training platform, but also a place where cyclists around the world can come together, engage, and become better riders,” says Doug Ryder, Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka’s Team Principal. “We want to take part in this unique experience to not only identify and discover talent, but also to educate others about our charity partner Qhubeka, an organization that works to bring rural communities across Africa closer to nutritious food, clean water, schools, employment, and health care by providing them with utility bicycles.”

Team Dimension Data Zwift Academy

Qhubeka uses their specially designed bikes to help empower these rural communities and provide that crucial mobilization opportunity. For every ten successful male graduates of Zwift Academy’s first phase, Zwift will donate a Qhubeka Bike to a community in need. Zwift has committed to funding 500 Qhubeka Bikes with hopes to provide many more.

Zwift has proven itself to not only be a rigorous data and training platform, but also a place where cyclists around the world can come together, engage, and become better riders

“Zwift has built a track record as a training tool used by top professional talent but we want to go much wider than this” says Eric Min, Zwift’s CEO and co-founder. “With 2017 enrollment in the women’s Canyon//SRAM Racing | Zwift Academy already open, we know with this expansion, we can create the largest online training community in cycling, where every participant of every ability is trained and coached into a stronger cyclist.”

Steve Cummings, Team Dimension Data rider and Level 18 Zwifter is already a fan. “The team are super supportive about joining forces with Zwift. Many of our staff and riders are keen Zwifters, so it’s a great fit. Zwift isn’t only a credible training platform, but a cool way to engage with our fans and support the Qhubeka mission”

Previously, the Zwift Academy was a women-only training and talent identification program. Following the successful award of a pro UCI World Tour cycling contract on the Canyon//SRAM Racing Team to newcomer Leah Thorvilson in 2016, plans began in earnest to expand the programme to include men, with a similar contract award to a professional men’s cycling team.

FeaturedNewsWomen's Cycling

The search concludes as CANYON//SRAM racing names Leah Thorvilson its Zwift Academy winner

810_8476
views
2388

After an exhaustive 11-month search, CANYON//SRAM has announced the rider who will take a spot on its World Tour roster, after having scoured the globe via its innovative partnership with Zwift to uncover raw talent.

Leah Thorvilson, a former U.S. Olympic trials marathon runner from Little Rock, Arkansas, fought off 1,200 women from around the world to win the pro-contract and the opportunity to race for the CANYON//SRAM Racing during the 2017 season.

“It’s been an incredible journey and a totally surreal experience,” said Thorvilson, after spending the better part of the 2016 summer participating in group rides and completing structured workout programs on Zwift, before training with the CANYON//SRAM team in Majorca.

Zwift Academy winner Leah Thorvilson

“Prior to Zwift Academy, I never would have guessed this was possible. The other finalists, Jessie and Yvonne are tremendous athletes whom I now consider close friends. I’m so grateful for the opportunity, and I can’t wait to begin this next chapter with the CANYON//SRAM Racing team.”

“Our team is about challenging conventions and we’re super proud of Leah,” said CANYON//SRAM Racing rider Tiffany Cromwell, who first announced the competition during a virtual group ride with Zwift users.

“It’d be an honour to have any of the Zwift Academy finalists on team for 2017; they’ve put their lives on hold for this opportunity, but Leah distinguished herself in making the final cut. Leah is a welcome addition here.”

For each of the three rounds of competition, a panel of judges narrowed riders down by carefully analysing data gathered during online rides and workouts.

CANYON//SRAM Sports Director Beth Duryea, Professional Pursuit World Champion Mike McCarthy, and TrainSharp Founder Jon Sharples were part of the selection committee who chose twelve semi-finalists before narrowing it down to the final three.

“Finding talent in cycling is a numbers game, in terms of casting the net wide and drawing performance data back in. That’s what excited us about the Zwift Academy concept. Indoor training provides the accessibility for participants, a safe environment to train and a controlled environment to analyse data, then Zwift adds the social element to build a community of riders and spur them on. It doesn’t surprise us that Leah is our winner. We’re looking forward to seeing how she can develop into a bike racer,” said TrainSharp’s Sharples.

“When you see an idea really become something, it’s an amazing feeling,” added Ronny Lauke, CANYON//SRAM Racing team manager.

“We took a chance with the Zwift Academy and we’re very pleased with the potential we saw not only in Leah, but in the other finalists as well. Watching and seeing all these women dedicate themselves to the sport, it makes one wonder how many more are overlooked.”

Zwift Academy Finalists Leah Thorvilson, Yvonne van Hattum and Jessie Donavan

Leah’s training and race schedule will be determined by the management of CANYON//SRAM Racing, including sport director Beth Duryea. “The immediate future is about further preparing Leah for bike racing at a professional level. The learning curve is going to be incredibly steep, but we will provide a plan with some specific areas for her to work on over the rest of winter. Leah will have a training program from our team coach and together we’ll discuss the first part of the season. It would be great to see her preparing to race sometime in spring.”

Zwift CEO & Founder, Erin Min concluded; “We knew that Zwift and its community were capable of producing a rider who could race at a World Tour level. But this was only made possible because of CANYON//SRAM Racing. This year was a pilot, and in this respect, our three finalists were true pioneers of their sport. No one can take this away from Leah, Jessie and Yvonne!”

Zwift, CANYON//SRAM Racing and Canyon have confirmed the Zwift Academy will return in 2017.

More on Zwift Academy Finalists

Leah Thorvilson

Thirty-seven-year-old Leah is a development director at her alma mater, the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. Leah’s prolific career as a marathon runner included multiple wins, and she competed in the 2012 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials. Injuries prompted a move to cycling in 2015, and Leah quickly dedicated herself to the sport.

Jessie Donavan

A long-time endurance athlete and mother of three, Jessie lives with her family near Burlington, Vermont. The 40-year-old, three-time Ironman champion has repeatedly set triathlon-course bests on the bike, and has a background in backpacking and running as well as elite Nordic skiing. Jessie works as a senior enrollment analyst at the University of Vermont.

Yvonne van Hattum

Originally from Holland, Yvonne currently resides with her husband in Dubai, UAE and works in management for Valvoline. A veteran field hockey player, Yvonne, 37, has been a runner for nearly a decade but only discovered her talent for cycling in 2015.

CANYON//SRAM Racing Pro Team Zwift Academy Winner from vamper.cc on Vimeo.

FeaturedNewsWomen's Cycling

Canyon//SRAM unveils Zwift Academy concept to uncover raw talent in women’s cycling

Canyon//SRAM Zwift
views
2596

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.”

Canyon//SRAM Zwift Academy
The program, officially called: The Canyon//SRAM Racing & Zwift Academy Project will also be supported by team partners Rapha, Wahoo Fitness, Zipp and Quarq.

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.