The Zwift Academy 2019 finalists have been announced

Six riders will now fight for a place on professional teams

(Image credit: Getty Images)

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.

>>> Danish ultracyclist completes 5,000km Zwift ride inside shopping centre 

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).

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Alex Ballinger

Alex Ballinger is editor of BikeBiz magazine, the leading publication for the UK cycle industry, and is the former digital news editor for After gaining experience in local newsrooms, national newspapers and in digital journalism, Alex found his calling in cycling, first as a reporter, then as news editor responsible for Cycling Weekly's online news output, and now as the editor of BikeBiz. Since pro cycling first captured his heart during the 2010 Tour de France (specifically the Contador-Schleck battle) Alex covered three Tours de France, multiple editions of the Tour of Britain, and the World Championships, while both writing and video presenting for Cycling Weekly. He also specialises in fitness writing, often throwing himself into the deep end to help readers improve their own power numbers.  Away from the desk, Alex can be found racing time trials, riding BMX and mountain bikes, or exploring off-road on his gravel bike. He’s also an avid gamer, and can usually be found buried in an eclectic selection of books.