Zwift and Canyon-SRAM Racing are partnering to seek out the next generation of pro cyclists in a very millennial way. Casting a net into the virtual world of Zwift — an indoor social cycling platform — Canyon-SRAM will select one rider for the 2017 squad based on data and metrics that can be tracked through Zwift.
During a live virtual group ride with Zwift users, Canyon-SRAM rider Tiffany Cromwell declared the race was on to find a 2017 teammate who would be identified, developed and launched into the pro peloton by her team and Zwift.
The program, called the Canyon-SRAM Racing Zwift Academy Project, is designed to identify raw talent that may otherwise go unnoticed. Virtual performance will not be the sole criteria used to make the selection but it will provide the opportunity to look beyond traditional constraints of amateur competition.
“Unfortunately the development pathways for female riders don’t compare to the men’s side of the sport,” says Cromwell. “But rather than swim against the tide, we’re taking the bull by the horns and shaking things up with Zwift. Cycling’s stars possess extraordinary physical attributes, and we’re confident one or two of those rough diamonds are out there to be unearthed on the Zwift platform.“
From March 2016, female amateur riders from all corners of the world will be invited to try out for a professional contract by riding Zwift in a winner-take-all competition
Zwift and Canyon-SRAM performance staff are currently developing an initial series of tasks, likely comprised of group rides and structured training programs, to identify the physical attributes and potential of riders who enter the program. The field will be reduced through 2016 until a final selection of three riders will compete on virtual and real roads for the opportunity to become a pro rider in 2017.
“We’re truly accessible and, with tens of thousands of users, we’re confident we can be a development platform for professional cycling,” explains Zwift CEO, Eric Min. “We’ve been working on a similar concept for some time so we were blown away when [Canyon-SRAM] Ronny Lauke suggested it to us.”
“The world is full of young cyclists with raw talent that we may not be noticing,” adds Lauke. “That’s a huge problem for the sport and we want to challenge this as much as possible. Of course, there are other criteria to becoming a pro cyclist, like attitude, bike handling and a good tactical brain, but without an exceptional engine you won’t get too far. This is going to be an exciting adventure with Zwift.”
Team partners Rapha, Wahoo Fitness, Zipp, and Quarq will also support the Canyon-SRAM Racing and Zwift Academy Project.