Since its inception in 2016, the Zwift Academy has led eight riders to professional contracts through a selection process devised and hosted by the virtual training platform. Now in its sixth edition, the Zwift Academy is reopening its doors for one male and one female rider to gain a contract at Alpecin-Fenix and Canyon-SRAM respectively.
Enrolment for the academy is now open but training programmes officially start in ten days' time, on August 30. The programme consists of six structured workouts and four additional Zwift Academy events, including two recovery rides, one Baseline ride and one Finish Line ride to be completed between August 30 and October 25.
In addition to the structured rides and workouts, those who are competing for a pro contract must also complete the Advance distance of the Baseline and Finish Line rides, a Pro Contender Time Trial event and a Pro Contender Workout before September 27 at 9:59am UTC, which is also when registration closes.
There are also some updates to the 2021 process; a new Orientation Workout has been added to the Zwift Training plans to help those who are new to structured training or the platform to familiarise themselves.
Zwift have also added a route progress bar so that users can see how far along a given route they are at any time as well as an update to the dynamics in a bunch. Additional equipment, routes, and some bug fixes have also been updated on the platform.
Many of the Zwift Academy winners are riders from outside of Europe for whom gaining race experience can prove difficult. Both 2020 winners, Neve Bradbury and Jay Vine, are from Australia.
Vine, who is currently racing the Vuelta a España with Alpecin-Fenix, says of the Academy: "Zwift Academy turned my distant daydream back in 2019 into a reality. I’m racing with a team, I’ve traveled to countries, I’ve made great friends along the way, and I’m doing what I love."
2018 Zwift Academy winner, 23-year-old Kiwi Ella Harris, has gone on to spend a further two seasons with the team and achieve some impressive results since winning the Zwift Academy.
"Even three years on, it's incredible how the Zwift Academy made my major long-term ambitions materialise and eventuate so quickly," Harris said.
Zwift saw a huge surge in popularity during the pandemic, with those in lockdown opting to subscribe to the platform in order to motivate themselves and ride with friends across the world. 2020 winner Neve Bradbury attributes the Academy to helping her stay motivated during this time:
"Zwift Academy kept me motivated during lockdown and gave me the opportunity to ride for one of the best teams in the world."
The finalists of the 2021 Zwift Academy will be announced no later than November 3, 2021, with finals to take place later in the month.
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