Ever wondered if your Zwift performances would be enough to keep up with the pros? The Zwift Academy 2021 could be your chance to find out.
The online mass participation training programme is back for its sixth year, with the Zwift talent ID program also offering up two professional contracts for rising stars.
Enrolment for the 2021 Zwift Academy opened on Tuesday (August 17) before the official start on August 30.
The Zwift Academy is an online training programme available to users of the indoor training and racing platform Zwift.
Riders must complete six workouts, two recovery rides and for the first time this year two benchmarking rides, which will show you how your indoor performances translate to the road.
These benchmarking rides - the Baseline Ride and the Finish Line Ride - will be undertaken at the start and end of the event respectively, as riders take on certain segments to test their sprint, anaerobic and aerobic efforts.
For those new to Zwift Academy, there is also an optional Orientation Workouts - a 25-minute, low intensity workout to take you through the basics.
Stephen Gallagher, co-founder of Dig Deep Coaching and designer of the Zwift Academy workout plan, said: “Zwift Academy is known for its successful talent ID program but it’s so much more for thousands of riders each year.
“We’ve designed the program to offer even more for those looking to take on the challenge of completing a training plan. The program covers many of the basic principles of training and should be a fun and rewarding experience for all abilities. The segment rides offer a new dynamic - everyone knows what it’s like to beat their personal best on a climb or sprint, so we’ve introduced this element to bring a bit of fun to the ‘testing’.”
Alongside the mass participation rides, there are two professional contracts available for one man and one woman through the talent ID programme, on Alpecin-Fenix and Canyon-SRAM.
Since its inception nine riders have graduated to pro contracts through the Zwift Academy, including Jay Vine who is currently riding the Vuelta a España with Alpecin-Fenix.
Contenders for the pro contracts must complete the full Zwift Academy programme and race in a number of ‘Pro Contender’ events, including a time trial.
Philip Roodhoft, general manager of Alpecin-Fenix, said: “Our first year partnering with Zwift Academy has been a great success.
“Jay, [last year’s Zwift Academy Winner], got off to a fantastic start with us at the Tour of Turkey, finishing second on GC in his first race for the team. Jay has shown fantastic dedication through the season and has justified his first Grand Tour start with us at this year’s Vuelta. I’m excited to see what he will do there and am looking forward to finding out who we might discover through the Zwift Academy program this year.”
Up to five women and men will be selected to go through to the Zwift Academy Finals, with two contenders crowned champions and given contracts for the 2022 race season.
Canyon-SRAM team manager Ronny Lauke said: “This is the sixth year with the Zwift Academy and we have had fantastic talent come through the program.
“Each year the competition seems to get closer and closer. This makes the decisions tough but shows the strength in the program. I look forward to meeting the ‘Class of 21’ later this year.”
Find out more and sign up to the Zwift Academy here.
The event begins on August 30 and ends on October 24.
Alex is the digital news editor for CyclingWeekly.com. After gaining experience in local newsrooms, national newspapers and in digital journalism, Alex found his calling in cycling, first as a reporter and now as news editor responsible for Cycling Weekly's online news output.
Since pro cycling first captured his heart during the 2010 Tour de France (specifically the Contador-Schleck battle) and joining CW in 2018, Alex has covered three Tours de France, multiple editions of the Tour of Britain, and the World Championships, while both writing and video presenting for Cycling Weekly. He also specialises in fitness writing, often throwing himself into the deep end to help readers improve their own power numbers.
Away from journalism, Alex is a national level time triallist, avid gamer, and can usually be found buried in an eclectic selection of books.
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