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Neve Bradbury had hoped to become a professional cyclist; it was the coronavirus pandemic that accelerated her plans.
In December of last year, the 18-year-old from Melbourne, Australia became the fifth winner of the Zwift Academy, an accomplishment that launched her from the junior ranks to a spot in the Women’s WorldTour. Although Bradbury was racing domestically and showed promise as a junior, if it weren’t for the strict lockdown measures in Melbourne, she likely wouldn’t have signed up for the indoor challenge.
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At Australian nationals in February, Bradbury showed that her pro contract with Canyon-SRAM was indeed deserved. At the event, the U23 and elite women competed together in the same race for the criterium and road events. Bradbury sprinted to a bronze medal in the U23 criterium, placing her seventh in the elite women; she earned a silver medal in the U23 road race and was sixth in the elite women’s category.
We caught up with Bradbury as she prepared to make the move from Melbourne to Girona ahead of her first season with Canyon-SRAM.
VeloNews: First, congrats on your excellent results at nationals. How do you feel?
Neve Bradbury: Thank you! I felt some pressure to do well, having the nats come not long after Zwift Academy, and wearing my new team kit. It was a good confidence boost.
VN: What will your role at Canyon-SRAM be this year?
NB: My role is primarily as a reserve in race if a rider is sick or unable to race. I’ll be developing my racecraft at the WorldTour level and working as a domestique. I think that, being a young rider, I will be finding my feet and where I fit into the team. I think that the team will look after me and understand that I’m fresh out of juniors, and this year is going to be full of new experiences for me.
VN: Do you feel confident entering the WorldTour after doing Zwift Academy? What about joining the pro ranks excites you, and what scares you?
NB: Zwift Academy has helped me to be confident that with time, racing, and a lot of learning, I will feel comfortable in the WorldTour peloton. I’m most excited about racing with my new team and racing with and against the best riders in the world. I’m not that experienced in racing in a big bunch, so that is the aspect that probably concerns me most.
VN: Before Zwift Academy, did you aspire to become a pro cyclist?
NB: I have always wanted to be a pro cyclist. Zwift Academy provided an opportunity to fast-track that process. I’m at uni studying exercise and sports science. My plan — if I didn’t become a pro cyclist — was to use my degree to work with elite cyclists. My studies complement my interests!
VN: Many Aussie riders have described the difficulty in being so far from home. Are you nervous about that?
NB: The longest I’ve been away from home before was a month. I’m slightly nervous about being away from home for six months, but the excitement I feel helps to settle that. I hope to make friends in Europe, that will help. Also, I plan to make regular phone calls to Aussie family and friends.
VN: What is your favorite type of riding?
NB: I enjoy descending more than anything, but you have to go up a hill to be able to go down it! I see myself specializing in climbing, that’s what I’m probably most natural at.
VN: Race you’re most excited about?
NB: There’s not really one particular race I’m most excited about. I’m just looking forward to the opportunity to race any of the WorldTour events!