38-year-old who turned pro after impressing on Zwift earns new contract at Canyon-SRAM

Leah Thorvilson earns herself a second year in the professional ranks

Leah Thorvilson's performances have seen her offered a new contract at Canyon-SRAM
(Image credit: Sean Robinson/Velofocus.com)

12 months on from winning a competition on Zwift that saw her get a contract in the professional ranks, Leah Thorvilson's real-world performances have secured a new contract with the Canyon-SRAM team.

Thorvilson, a former U.S. Olympic trial marathon runner, fought off 1,200 other riders and went through three rounds of competition as her performances on online turbo training platform Zwift were assessed by professional coaches, before being offered a contract.

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Going in at the deep end with races in Belgium in the spring, Thorvilson struggled at first, posting a number of DNFs, before finding her feet later in the season and completing her first Women's WorldTour event at the Ladies Tour of Norway in August.

Clearly seeing progress, Canyon-SRAM have offered the American a new contract for the 2018 season, with Thorvilson looking forward to chasing results for herself as well as the team.

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“Last season I worked very hard, but I think I also gave myself some grace with the end result. Everything was new and I kept looking only at the positives," Thorvilson said.

"This coming year I will be holding myself to a higher standard. I was given this chance because people believe in me and that I can be more. I aim to prove them right.

"Personally I’d also like to take some podiums on the Belgium and Dutch national level races if I race them again next year, and to have a good performance in the time trial and road race at US nationals."

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The news comes as the 2017 Zwift Academy was whittled down to the 20 semi-finalists, 10 men competing for a spot on the Dimension Data development team, and 10 women looking to join Thorvilson at Canyon-SRAM.

From those groups, three men and three women will be chosen to join team training camps in December, when the final winners will be selected.

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Henry Robertshaw began his time at Cycling Weekly working with the tech team, writing reviews, buying guides and appearing in videos advising on how to dress for the seasons. He later moved over to the news team, where his work focused on the professional peloton as well as legislation and provision for cycling. He's since moved his career in a new direction, with a role at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.