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December 14, 2017
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  • valiumct

    Very interesting article…

  • Cruz er

    Great to read this update. Leah Thorvilson deserves a lot of credit and what an interesting concept. It will be interesting to follow the men’s Zwift rider next year.

  • jules

    Rather than throwing her in the world tour they could have done the more proven method of entering her in club handicaps as new to racing. That would have been more successful and she could have learned some of the base skills cyclists need like sandbagging.

    • DaveRides

      The team did have her do a bunch of local-level races before joining the senior squad, so she wasn’t thrown straight in.

      In Australia for example, she travelled with the senior squad and was racing in local crits while they did the Santos Women’s Tour. She admitted herself that her skills were not up to the task after that, and this was followed up by concern from other riders when her name appeared on the team sheet for top-level races in Europe.

  • This was a clever marketing strategy by Zwift and congratulate them for pulling it off, but I personally think it’s a poor (but accurate) reflection on the professional sport of cycling to let someone with no experience race at the highest level as part of a marketing campaign. What other sport on Earth is that possible in?

    But good on Leah for having a crack at it. What an experience it must have been.

    • DaveRides

      There’s a bit of nuance to it – Canyon-SRAM made Thorvilson work her way up through a series of local races before letting her ride with the senior squad.

      I’m sure this will be even more pronounced with the winner of the men’s competition, as Continental-level racing in Europe is a lot deeper than women’s international racing. It’s entirely possible that the winner won’t get to ride with the Dimension Data Continental team at a UCI classified race in Europe before the second half of the year.

      > What other sport on Earth is that possible in?
      NRL had The Rookie last year.

      • I did think of the reality show “Making the Cut: Last Man Standing” which was about NHL ice hockey as a parallel, but then again these were all incredibly talented guys who didn’t quite make the big league. They all had significant experience at a high level and had been playing all their lives. It would be similar to a pro-conti rider trying to get a ride on a WorldTour team. I’m not familiar with The Rookie, but it looks similar.

        Anyway, no disrespect to Leah or Zwift. It’s more of a reflection on pro cycling that this can happen.

        • Bryan Duggan

          Yeah, and one has to wonder if some other younger rider, in search of a contract missed out because of this. Though, doubtless Zwift were making a healthy contribution towards the team’s costs of having her on the roster.

          Again, no disrepect to Leah, but something seems a bit off about this.

          • The article reads as if Zwift was paying her full spot. Also, it reads as if the spot would not exist if it weren’t for the Zwift program. So I guess no one was really missing out (on a contract) apart from non-selection to races in case Leah got a call up.
            Personally, I just find it fascinating to see that you can stick a talented athlete that’s tests execptionally well in the lab into the peloton and they still get their teeth kicked in. It’s not all motor after all and you can compensate a lot with experience, smart racing and placing your chips where it counts.

    • Jaybo

      the GT academy works fairly similar, take someone racing cars on a playstation and then throw them through a trial-by-fire bootcamp, then throw them in a car for the likes of the bathurst 12-hour if they’re the winner.
      it’s proved to be fairly decent in motor racing fields for a couple of reasons – one being that you can simulate it pretty well on a computer nowadays, but secondly because there’s a huge financial barrier to motorsports, so there’s a wealth of untapped talent that never got daddy’s money to race karts from age 5.

  • Rowena

    Well done Leah!

  • campirecord

    There are tons of facebook and internet champions. They just need to get on to a real race and see how swift cannot help them on the bike handling. These athletes are best introduced to hill racing than crits or kermesse. There is also of course a group responsability, outside of a single tema, its the security of an entire peloton that is at play for people that have been rubbing shoulders for 10-20 years.

  • NEcyclist88

    Leah sounds like a real badass. Hope someone gives her a shot for next season.

    • Steve S

      +1 frigging amazing achievement

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