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Zwift Academy boosts two new talents into Canyon-SRAM, Alpecin-Deceuninck

Brit Alex Morrice and Italian Luca Vergallito top the competition in seventh Zwift Academy and earn pro contacts for 2023.

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Alex Morrice and Luca Vergallito were handed pro contracts with Canyon-SRAM and the Alpecin-Deceuninck devo team after bettering 160,000 entrants at the 2022 Zwift Academy.

British rider Morrice and the Italian Vergallito follow in the virtual wheeltracks of riders like Jay Vine, Ella Harris, and Neve Bradbury by topping the online platform’s high-stakes competition to reach the pro peloton.

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After initial rounds of selection through the autumn via Zwift, five men and five women recently clipped in for final challenges and races in Denia, Spain.

Along with a series of workouts, candidates met with potential teammates from the Women’s WorldTour squad of Chloé Dygert and Kasia Niewiadoma, and the feeder team for Mathieu van der Poel’s Belgian crew.

“It was such a privilege to get to go to Spain and spend a week with the incredible women on Canyon-SRAM,” Morrice said. “I was so excited to get to ride with some of the world’s best women professional cyclists. Everyone made me feel so welcome and I couldn’t be more excited to race alongside these ladies in 2023 and beyond.”

Maurice, 22, is a level 34 Zwifter. The 25-year-old male winner Vergallito is level 39 on the platform.

“Even for someone who lives so close to the heart of professional racing, it can be very hard to get noticed by the big teams,” he said. “I’m so excited to join the Alpecin-Deceuninck development team for the coming season, to get to test my fitness in the most important races, and to learn racing from many of the world’s best athletes.”

Riders vying for a pro contract like Morrice and Vergallito were required to complete the baseline mass participation Academy requirements while also completing “Pro Contender” workouts.

Tests for aerobic capacity and glycolytic capacity, along with verified weight measurements, were required for all those online hopefuls looking to level up to pro contracts.

Recent and notable winners of the Academy include Harris, Vine, Bradbury and Tanja Erath.

Vine in particular has flourished since he “graduated” at the turn of 2021. The Aussie won two stages of the Vuelta a España with Alpecin-Deceuninck this summer and booked a space alongside Tadej Pogačar at UAE Emirates for 2023.

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Last year’s champions were Maud Oudeman and Alex Bogna. Oudeman steps to Jumbo-Visma next season after only seeing 19 race days in 2022. Bogna is expected to continue one more year at the Alpecin-Deceuninck Conti team.