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FeaturedNews

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

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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.

FeaturedWomen's Cycling

Zwift Academy initiative to return for 2017 with eRacing component; CANYON//SRAM Racing retains project partnership

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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.

Leah Thorvilson
2016 Zwift Academy winner Leah Thorvilson

“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.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XPHFuGL6Uq0

“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.

 

 

FeaturedNewsWomen's Cycling

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

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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.

FeaturedNews

Zwift mobilises massive community support for the Africa Kit Appeal

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The Africa Kit Appeal, the charity founded by Team Dimension Data rider Matt Brammeier, has today unveiled Zwift as its new title sponsor.

The charity encourages cyclists from around the world to donate their unwanted cycling gear to help young aspiring African cyclists.

As title sponsor, Zwift will cover all import duties associated with sending kit to Africa, as well as encouraging its global community of riders to send cycling kit to communities in need.

“We’re super excited about teaming up with Matt and the Africa Kit Appeal. This exciting grassroots project is a great fit for the Zwift community and we have no doubt that Zwifters all around the world will want to get involved”, said Zwift CEO and co-founder Eric Min.

“There’s too much good cycling kit lying unused in people’s homes. Let’s give it a new home, a new purpose in life and help inspire young cyclists to fulfil their potential,” Min added.

“Everyone at the Africa Kit Appeal is thrilled to welcome Zwift as our new title sponsor. Helping covering our import duties is great but the potential from Zwift engaging their community is even greater. We’re looking forward to the massive potential this new partnership can offer us, and we are all truly grateful for their assistance and support,” said Matt Brammeier.

The 2017 Africa Kit Appeal begins on 1st October. The partnership is asking that no kit above a size medium be donated, as it proves difficult to repurpose.

To find out where a nearest drop off location is and how you can donate, visit www.africakitappeal.com.

 

 

FeaturedNews

Zwift adds iPad & iPhone dedicated apps to its turbo training arsenal

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Zwift, the online training and gaming platform for cyclists, has announced it will release iPad and iPhone versions of its app, beginning with the imminent launch of an iOS Beta program.

‘Zwifting’ on iOS will open up the service to cyclists unable to ride Zwift because they don’t currently own a dedicated Mac or PC.

“We’re committed to making Zwift more accessible, easier to set-up and stress-free to ride. Zwifting on iPad and iPhone achieves all of this without compromising on a quality experience for our users,” said Zwift CEO and Founder Eric Min.

“Twelve months ago, Zwift was a product associated with high spec computers, ANT+ dongles, and permanent home set-ups with large screen TVs. Very soon, this same product will be available at the tap of a finger from the App Store, entirely portable and easy to connect via Bluetooth. This is great news for cyclists across the world who live in city apartments and shared homes, where space is a premium.”

Zwift’s support of iOS is expected to receive a warm welcome from industry partners at Eurobike 2016.

“There’s no doubt about the Zwift Effect. Training in the home is becoming a year round trend and Zwift is a big part of that,” offered Tacx CEO, Koos Tacx.

“A lot of attention at Eurobike will be focused on the innovations in the home trainer market and Zwift in iOS will continue to drive that growth.”

Zwift’s iOS Beta program will begin in September, with invites being sent to the Zwift community. Pricing on iOS will be equivalent to Mac and PC at £8 per month, offered as no-obligation monthly subscription. A full subscription launch is planned for winter 2016.

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Zwift’s iOS Beta program will begin in September, with invites being sent to the Zwift community.

 

FeaturedNewsSportives

Zwift launches Prudential RideLondon course – cycle London and Surrey traffic-free year round

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Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, Leith Hill, Box Hill – now you can enjoy the iconic sights of London and Surrey from the comfort of your turbo trainer as you experience the routes of one of the world’s greatest cycling festivals, courtesy of Zwift.

The new Prudential RideLondon course on the virtual, social indoor cycling platform will take you from the iconic landmarks of central London into the idyllic lanes of the Surrey Hills and back again. Better still, in the world of Zwift Prudential RideLondon roads will remain traffic-free and open to cyclists year round rather than one day out of 365!

To celebrate the Zwift Prudential RideLondon course, there are some special events lined up to coincide with the real world Prudential RideLondon schedule. Missed out on a ballot place this year? You can join in with the real ride from your home. Challenge yourself to the 100 mile ride through the streets and countryside of London, ending with an iconic finish through the Prudential RideLondon arch on The Mall. Riders will start together as a group with the ride leader setting the pace, but the goal is to finish the ride: if you can’t keep up with the peloton, ride by yourself or with others to the finish. Turn the fans on and fill your water bottles up! If you don’t fancy riding the full 100 mile route, you can take part in the 46 Challenge, too.

The events you can join are as follows:

Saturday, July 30th – Zwift Prudential RideLondon Classique Group Ride

8 am PDT (California) / 11am EDT (New York) / 4 pm BST (London)

Sunday, July 31st – Zwift Prudential RideLondon Surrey 100 Challenge

8 am AEST (Australia) / 8 am BST (London)

Sunday, July 31st – Zwift Prudential RideLondon Surrey 46 Challenge
8 pm AEST (Australia) and 7 pm BST (London)

 

(By the way – Zwift advises users that this is a big update – be sure to give yourself a little extra time before you plan to ride.)

FeaturedSportivesWomen's Cycling

Vamper’s #NewYearRevolutions – our 2016 cycling resolutions

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Regular readers will no doubt have noticed our absence over the past few weeks.

We promise, it isn’t that we don’t care.

Unfortunately, as any amateur cyclist will understand, life has an unwelcome habit of obstructing one’s hobbies sometimes.

Left to our own devices, we would have gladly spent much of our Christmas break cycling – but our Christmas was spent driving around the country, from our home in Surrey up to the flooded land of Yorkshire, across to Cheshire, down to Devon and back up to The Cotswolds for a whirlwind of festive family activities. With a car already full of apparel to suit every eventuality, from dinner parties and country walks to husky driving in the rain (we kid you not), it dawned on us that trying to add bikes and kit to the mix for a possible ride out if the rain were ever to let up was probably not a worthwhile exercise. We’re happy to say that it was, actually, the right call: we struggled to drive along the flooded roads in Yorkshire and nothing would have made us risk our lives on bikes in those conditions.

Unfortunately, as any amateur cyclist will understand, life has an unwelcome habit of obstructing one’s hobbies sometimes.

The moment Christmas was over, we dove headfirst into completing the purchase of our first home – the new Vamper.cc HQ. Another fortnight of bike-free life, with evenings spent packing, and then unpacking, and finally, passing out with exhaustion.

A month after our last real bike ride, we’re happy to say that we’re all travelled out and settled in our new home. The bike room is up and running (bigger and better than ever!) and we’re now getting very excited about what the year holds for our two-wheeled adventures.

So, without further ado, here are our 2016 cycling resolutions… Share yours with us on Twitter with #NewYearRevolutions.

  1. Turbo charge our lives with Zwift: we have set up a dedicated bike room in our new home complete with turbo trainer and huge screen for indoor workouts. As I lack the attention span to ride indoors on my own, we’ll be adding a second turbo trainer so that we can train together. You’ll find us on Zwift as Matt – Vamper.cc and Victoria – Vamper.cc. Look out for us!
  2. Complete a Time Trial event: I signed up for The Tour of Cambridgeshire Chrono TT in June, which is going to require some serious practice and determination.
  3. Improve on last year’s Prudential 100 RideLondon times: ok, last year was our first try – not to mention my first sportive. We were proud to get round in one piece. But this year, we want to improve our times dramatically. We’re aiming for five hours.
  4. Incremental upgrades: Yes, we’d both love new bikes. Show us a cyclist who doesn’t hanker after a new ride and we’ll show you a pig fluttering through the sky. But we’ve just bought our first house, so we’re going to add incremental upgrades to the bikes we already own. Matt is planning a groupset upgrade to SRAM Red, and I’m planning a new wheelset purchase…
  5. Join the French Revolution: We will be undertaking the Granfondo Les Deux Alpes in the Ecrins National Park, which takes a superb route along unspoiled roads between Oisans and Valbonnais. We’ll take in climbs including Alpe d’Huez and Col de la Croix de Fer as well as exploring the area made famous by the Tour de France, Marmotte and Etape. Time to brush up our Français!

Is there anything you would like us to get involved with or come along to? Please feel free to contact us at matt@vamper.cc or victoria@vamper.cc.

The new bike room at Vamper.cc is coming together - we'll be adding a second turbo trainer shortly!
The new bike room at Vamper.cc is coming together – we’ll be adding a second turbo trainer shortly! No excuse to miss a ride because of the weather now…
FeaturedNewsWomen's Cycling

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

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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.