Drew Christensen has been crowned winner of the 2019 men’s Zwift Academy, securing him a pro contract with the NTT development squad.
New Zealand rider Christensen emerged as number one out of the 60,000 male riders who entered the unique indoor training competition this year.
The 18-year-old joins the 2019 women’s academy winner and compatriot Jessica Pratt, who secured her spot with the Canyon-SRAM squad.
Winner of the 2018 men’s Zwift Academy, Martin Lavrič has also had his contract with NTT extended, making two graduates riding on the under-23 squad.
Christensen said: “This is incredible.
“I entered Zwift Academy with an eye on a semi-final place, I can’t believe I have a pro contract. It will be great to ride on the team alongside Maetin Lavrič and learn from his experience through the Zwift Academy and onto a pro team.”
The Zwift Academy sees thousands of riders from across the world complete a series of training rides on the indoor platform, with the best performers making it through the semi-final round.
Riders are then whittled down until there were just three men and three women remaining, who all travelled to Spain for a training camp, the final step in the process.
Christensen and his fellow finalists Mathijs Loman and Campbell Pithie then completed a series or workouts, races and group training rides under the eye of Zwift’s panel of expert coaches.
NTT coach Elliot Lipski said: “We’ve seen some really strong riders come through the academy again this year.
“In fact, I think the pool of talent goes even deeper this year. It’s important to see how the riders react to different scenarios out on the road, how they communicate an how they fit in with the team.
“These are all incredibly important skills when fitting into a team that spends a lot of time on the road and needs to function as a unit. Having spent some time with the riders here in Spain, we’re really confident in Drew. He showed real instinct out on the road, and the other riders took to him well.”
Zwift co-founder and CEO Eric Min said: “This year’s Zwift Academy has been great again.
“As a cyclist, I get a lot from the academy, both in terms of the fitness and also through the enjoyment of leading rides and interacting with the community. I’d like to offer my congratulations to Drew.
“I’m really excited to see how he performs next year and fits into the team with his fellow academy winner Martin Lavrič.”
Zwift will also be donating 749 bikes to Qhubeka, to be handed out throughout South Africa to help rural communities.