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by Shane Stokes
November 22, 2017
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Following a process which narrowed the list down from 9,200 riders to just three, Zwift has announced the winner of its Zwift Academy and thus the recipient of a pro contract with Team Dimension Data.
The selection consisted of a six-week program of workouts, group rides and races held in the online cycling environment of Zwift. From there ten under 23 riders were selected for the two-week long semi-finals and another round of workouts. These were held both on Zwift and outdoors, and further narrowed the selection down to three riders.
Those three – New Zealand’s Ollie Jones, Sam Mobberley (New Zealand) and Nick White (Australia) went to the team’s training camp in Cape Town, South Africa. They spent a week there doing further challenges, with Jones finally being awarded a slot on the team’s under 23 squad for next season.
“To say this is a dream come true is the understatement of the year,” he said. “It’s a life changing experience and I still can’t believe it’s happening. Nick and Sam were incredible competitors in the Academy Final and, after this camp, good friends. Now I’m onto the next challenge of making the move to a now home in Lucca, Italy and doing everything I can to support my team mates in the season ahead.”
“Finding the next young talent is never easy, but Zwift’s reach and data collection opens our team up to the whole world,” said Team Dimension Data’s Team Principal Douglas Ryder. “Of course, there’s no substitute for the tactics, bike handling, and skills a rider needs in real-world racing, but these finalists presented us with the raw materials we need to find the next generation of world class talent. This isn’t a marketing gimmick; many of our riders are passionate about riding Zwift and they’ve seen first hand what a capable rider Ollie is.”