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December 13, 2019
Today Zwift has unveiled Jessica Pratt as the winner of the fourth Canyon//SRAM Zwift Academy Program. Having secured a professional cycling contract for the 2020 season, Jessica will now join past Zwift Academy winners, Ella Harris and Tanja Erath at Canyon//SRAM Racing for the 2020 season.
“The vision for Zwift Academy was to revolutionise professional cycling by introducing an entirely new means of identifying talent.” Says Eric Min, Zwift CEO and Co-Founder.
“I’d say we got lucky with finding Ella and Tanja, but that really isn’t true.” Adds Ronny Lauke, Canyon//SRAM Racing Team Manager. “Finding incredible talent – which these riders have in spades – is exactly what the Zwift Academy does. I know we have another great talent this year in Jessica, and look forward to watching her contribute to the team in her first World Tour season.”
A theme has emerged from the Zwift Academy over the past four years. Year on year, the Southern Hemisphere has continued to deliver a wealth of talent in the Zwift Academy finals and semi finals. This year, all three finalists came from the Southern Hemisphere, and Australia’s Jessica Pratt will join New Zealand’s Ella Harris at Canyon//SRAM next season.
This year’s finalists L-R: New Zealand’s Samara Sheppard, Australia’s Jessica Pratt, and South Africa’s Catherine Colyn
“For us in the Southern Hemisphere, the Zwift Academy arguably presents an even bigger opportunity than for those in Europe, North America and Asia.” Says 2019 Zwift Academy Winner Jessica. “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 win is life changing for me – I’m so, so happy!”
Enrolment in the Zwift Academy continues to grow year on year. The 2019 program shaw just shy of 9,000 women take part, an 80% increase over 2018. While only one may emerge with a professional contract, the remaining women who take part are able to benefit from increased in fitness resulting from the 8 workouts and four group rides or races it takes to graduate.