Do you dream of turning pro? Now there’s a way to do it without leaving the house

Following a successful 2016 pilot, the Zwift academy returns in 2017 with renewed Canyon/SRAM partnership and a focus on eSports

After a successful first year in 2016, the Zwift academy will return to give promising amateur riders the chance to turn pro without leaving the house.

The programme is run in partnership with the Canyon/SRAM women’s team and invites participants to try out for the top-level women’s team through a series of rides on Zwift.

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Following a successful 2016, the company hopes to triple registrations to the academy in 2017, creating the “world’s largest community of female cyclists”.

Registrations for the 2017 academy are expected to open in June, and the company is hoping to attract over 3,600 female cyclists to take part in the programme.

Leah Thorvilson, last year’s Zwift Academy winner

“In 2016 the Zwift academy brought together a global community of female cyclists who supported and encouraged each other”, said Canyon/SRAM rider Tiffany Cromwell. “I’m looking forward to seeing this inclusive vibe go from strength to strength in 2017”.

2017 however, will see a new focus on “eSports”. Previously, participants had to take part in group rides, training rides and structured training programs. The biggest change for 2017, however, is the introduction of eRacing to the semi-final stage in November.

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The idea behind this, according to Zwift is that racing “provides the judges with another important evaluation component”.

Eric Min, Zwift co-founder, continued, “Zwift academy racing will be an ideal testing ground for measuring and gauging new talent in a fair, effective, competitive environment”.

Watch: Canyon/SRAM pro bike

Looking ahead, Zwift are keen to further expand on eSports in the 2018 season and are apparently in talks with a Canyon/SRAM eRacing development team.

This “unique project will ease many of the budget constraints in women’s cycling by allowing rider talent to be developed online, in various different places”.

Last year’s Zwift Academy winner Leah Thorvilson has since joined her Canyon/SRAM teammates and management in Adelaide for the start of the 2017 season.