Canyon-SRAM and Zwift announced Maud Oudeman as the winner of the women's 2021 Zwift Academy road program, following a week-long final held in Mallorca. The 18-year-old rider from the Netherlands will join the Women's WorldTour team beginning on January 1, 2022.
"I can't believe it. On hearing my name as the winner, I felt so many different emotions. Mostly, I felt proud of myself for what I have achieved. I felt proud that I started this journey, enrolling in Zwift Academy and thinking about a dream to make it to the finals. Proud of a bag full of experiences from the finals that I took home with me to The Netherlands. The week was so amazing but also a tough test," Oudeman said in a team press release on Sunday. "
"It feels unreal to be the winner of the Zwift Academy. It really is a dream coming true. I cannot wait to race for Canyon-SRAM Racing and I’m really excited to continue to learn, improve and help the team as much as I can next year.”
The Zwift Academy programme started in partnership with Canyon-SRAM in 2016. The academy allowed amateur riders a chance to train with the team and try to prove themselves worthy of racing at the top level, and then to secure a contract to race in the professional ranks.
Oudeman is the sixth winner of the Zwift Academy, following Neve Bradbury in 2020, Jessica Pratt in 2019, Ella Harris in 2018, Tanja Erath in 2017 and Leah Thorvilson in 2016.
This year's Zwift Academy saw a record of over 150,000 riders participate in structured workouts held across the eight-week programme. It was the sixth time the global online talent ID competition offered the opportunity to secure a one-year contract with Canyon-SRAM.
This year, the men's and women's Zwift Academy finals were combined and held together in Mallorca. There were five men and five women contenders who faced daily challenges, both on Zwift and on local climbs. Alex Bogna from Australia won the professional contract with Alpecin-Fenix in 2022.
Oudeman excelled in the daily workouts and earned multiple ‘rider of the day’ awards, according to the team press release, and she fit in well with her new teammates at Canyon-SRAM.
"I have to say that all of the Zwift Academy finalists were at a very high level. All of the women displayed characteristics and talent that showed they were ready to be a part of the team. It proves how serious riders are now taking this opportunity offered by Zwift and the team to turn pro," said Canyon-SRAM leader Kasia Niewiadoma.
"What I liked about Maud was that she could really be herself throughout the week. She was very strong during all the workouts and challenges but she had a nice attitude on and off the bike, and when she was in just riding mode compared to racing mode.
"I'm confident she will easily bond with all of her new teammates next year. My tip for Maud would be to stay who she is. She's doing great so far! The year will be full of surprises and challenges but I feel like she is ready for that."
Oudeman will join Canyon-SRAM returning riders Niewiadoma, Brandbury and Harris, along with Tiffany Cromwell, Alena Amialiusik, Chloe Dygert, Alice Barnes, Elise Chabbey, Mikayla Harvey, Lisa Klein, and newcomers Pauliena Rooijakkers and Soraya Paladin (Liv Racing), Shari Bossuyt (NXTG Racing), Sarah Roy (BikeExchange).
"Maud's determination was impressive. The way she fights the hardest when it's toward the finish line, and then being able to deliver a final kick at the end of each challenge. For a young rider, Maud was very consistent over the week. She never had a bad day with all of the challenges the finalists had to face. I believe Maud will have the opportunity in plenty of races next year to show her strengths and we're looking forward to seeing what we can achieve together," said Lars Teutenberg, racing performance manager.
"Maud's determination was impressive. The way she fights the hardest when it's toward the finish line, and then being able to deliver a final kick at the end of each challenge. For a young rider, Maud was very consistent over the week. She never had a bad day with all of the challenges the finalists had to face. I believe Maud will have the opportunity in plenty of races next year to show her strengths and we're looking forward to seeing what we can achieve together."
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Kirsten Frattini is an honours graduate of Kinesiology and Health Science from York University in Toronto, Canada. She has been involved in bike racing from the grassroots level to professional cycling's WorldTour. She has worked in both print and digital publishing, and started with Cyclingnews as a North American Correspondent in 2006. Moving into a Production Editor's role in 2014, she produces and publishes international race coverage for all cycling disciplines, edits news and writes features. Currently the Women's Editor at Cyclingnews, Kirsten coordinates global coverage of races, news, features and podcasts about women's professional cycling.
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