Virtual training program Zwift will join Canyon//SRAM in indentifying a lucky winner who will get a 2017 contract to ride with the women’s UCI team. Female amateur riders from all corners of the globe will be invited to tryout for the spot by riding Zwift in a winner-takes-all talent contest.
“Unfortunately the development pathways for female riders don’t compare to the men’s side of the sport,” said Canyon//SRAM’s Tiffany Cromwell. “But rather than swim against the tide we’re taking the bull by the horns and shaking things up with Zwift. Cycling’s stars possess extraordinary physical attributes and we’re confident one or two of those rough diamonds are out there to be unearthed on the Zwift platform.”
Zwift and Canyon//SRAM are developing an initial series of tasks, including group rides and structured training programmes, to identify the physical attributes and potential of riders who enter the programme. The field will be reduced through 2016 until a final selection of three riders will compete on virtual and real roads for the opportunity to become a pro rider in 2017.
“This isn’t a marketing gimmick,” said Zwift CEO Eric Min. “ Zwift is a global, reliable and data driven platform. We’re truly accessible, and with tens of thousands of users we’re confident we can be a development platform for professional cycling. We’ve been working on a similar concept for some time so we were blown away when [Canyon//SRAM director] Ronny Lauke suggested it to us.”
Lauke said the world is full of unrecognized talent, and he’s excited to partner with Zwift to help identify potential pros.
“The world is full of young cyclists with raw talent that we may not be noticing,” Lauke said. “That’s a huge problem for the sport and we want to challenge this as much as possible. Of course, there are other criteria to becoming a pro cyclist, like attitude, bike handling and a good tactical brain, but without an exceptional engine you won’t get too far.”
The programme called the “Canyon//SRAM Racing, Zwift Academy Project” will also be supported by team partners, Rapha, Wahoo Fitness, Zipp & Quarq.