New Zealand's Ella Harris youngest rider to win Zwift Academy contract with Canyon-SRAM

The 20-year-old fought off competition from 5,000 contestants

Image: Corinne Walder

The newest rider to earn a pro contract via the Zwift Academy is young New Zealander, Ella Harris.

The 20-year-old enters the UCI pro peloton, joining Canyon-SRAM women's racing team, with ambitions of attacking the spring classics.

A fan of "hard, hilly, undulating races," the newest recruit to the German registered team beat around 5,000 Zwift Academy contestants to the win.

Following a series of workouts, races and group rides on the indoor training platform, Harris joined two other semi-finalists, British rider Mary Wilkinson and Ione Johnson, also from New Zealand, at the Canyon/SRAM training camp in Málaga, Spain where she was eventually selected as the winner.

L-R Ione Johnson, Ella Harris, Mary Wilkinson. Image: Corinne Walder

She'll join 2017 winner, Tanja Erath, whose contract has been extended with the World Tour outfit.

“I can’t believe I did it! I’m so happy,” Harris said on receiving the news.

“I entered hoping, and wanting, to win but when I heard my name called out, it was a feeling of complete shock!

"Now I’m going home to celebrate with my family and friends before focusing on training for my first year in the World Tour. It’s unbelievable.”

The academy began in 2016, making Harris its third recruit into pro racing, with US rider Leah Throvilson - who rode the for squad in 2017 and 2018 - the first.

Harris is the youngest winner of the opportunity - Thorvilson and Erath were 38 and 28-year-old respectively, on selection.

Harris is the youngest rider to win the Zwift Academy. Image: Corinne Walder

“Ella is another great prospect who showed her all-round abilities during the week here in Málaga," said Canyon-SRAM team manager Ronny Lauke.

"No doubt she will learn a lot from next year on how to adapt to life as a professional rider away from home. I really look forward to welcoming Ella to the team and what she can do out on the road next season!”

Kate Veronneau, Women’s Zwift Academy Lead at Zwift, said: “What another fantastic year it’s been for the CANYON//SRAM Zwift Academy.”

“While the champions of the Zwift Academy are the ones who grab the headlines, and rightly so, it’s important to highlight the thousands of women who took part in the 2019 Zwift Academy - many with very different objectives to the winner. It’s fantastic to be a part of such a community and championing women’s cycling.”

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