The finalists for the 2019 Zwift Academy have been announced, with six riders making it through to fight for spots on professional teams.
Now in its fourth year, the competition saw 68,000 riders whittled down to three women and three under-23 men all hoping for a spot on either Canyon-SRAM or NTT Pro Cycling.
The next step for the contenders is a trip to southern Spain in early December for training camps with the teams, where they will be challenged both on Zwift and out on the road to decide the winners.
The three women hoping for a place on Canyon-SRAM are Catherine Colyn from South Africa, Jessica Pratt from Australia and Samara Sheppard from New Zealand.
Colyn, who was U23 national road champion in 2018, is strong both on the road and on the mountain bike. Pratt is an all-rounder with an under-19 national title to her name and a top-10 finish in the junior World Championship road race in 2015. Sheppard started riding after an injury brought her running career to a close. She is a multiple national champion on the mountain bike.
In the men’s contest, the finalists are Drew Christensen and Campbell Pithie, both from New Zealand, and Dutchman Mathijs Loman.
Christensen is a long distance rider with climbing pedigree who raced the junior World Championship road race in Harrogate this year. Loman is pursuing a degree in mechanical engineering but hopes to ride and train full time. Pithie has titles in both road and cyclocross.
The final contest will be during the training camps in Spain, where the riders will be assessed on their race craft, communication and ability to fit in with the team.
The winners will be selected by team coaches, staff and riders. The women’s winner will join 2018 Academy winner Ella Harris on the Canyon-SRAM team, while the men’s winner will join the NTT Pro Cycling U23 development squad (formerly Dimension Data’s U23 team).