Zwift Academy winner Jessica Pratt has secured a one-year contract and the final spot on Canyon-SRAM's roster for 2020. The 22-year-old Australian came out on top after beating two other finalists: Catherine Colyn from South Africa and Samara Sheppard of New Zealand.
"For us in the southern hemisphere, the Zwift Academy arguably presents an even bigger opportunity than for those in Europe, North America and Asia," Pratt said.
"For me, personally, I was incredibly hungry for it. It can be a very difficult route to the professional peloton when compared to the opportunities available to riders living in cycling's homeland, Europe. The cost of travel alone can make things very difficult when living in Australia. To have come through and won is life-changing for me. I'm so, so happy," she said.
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.
Pratt is the fourth winner of the competition, and will join 2018 winner Ella Harris and 2017 winner Tanja Erath on the Canyon-SRAM team next year. Leah Thorvilson was the first winner of the competition in 2016 and raced with Canyon-SRAM in 2017 and 2018.
The 2019 Zwift Academy saw just shy of 9,000 women take part – an 80 per cent increase over 2018.
"The vision for Zwift Academy was to revolutionise professional cycling by introducing an entirely new means of identifying talent," said Eric Min, Zwift CEO and co-founder.
"2020 will see three former winners take to the WorldTour with Canyon-SRAM Racing, proving that the programme has been a resounding success. I wish Jessica the very best in her first year as a professional – she is certainly in the right place to receive the best support and guidance."