So you think you have what it takes to race on the WorldTour? Well, here’s your chance to prove it (provided you’re under 22 years of age). Zwift, the popular online training platform for cyclists, has announced an expansion of Zwift Academy into men’s cycling with Team Dimension Data.
Top performing under-22 graduates will battle it out for a pro contract on the Team Dimension Data UCI Continental Squad for 2018. And all graduates of the 2017 Team Dimension Data/Zwift Academy will unlock charitable donations to the Qhubeka charity. Enrollment for the Team Dimension Data/Zwift Academy is now officially open at academy.zwift.com.
Previously, the Zwift Academy was a women-only training and talent identification program. But following the successful award of a pro UCI World Tour cycling contract on the Canyon-SRAM Racing Team to newcomer Leah Thorvilson in 2016, plans began to expand the program to include men, with a similar contract award to a professional men’s cycling team.
Phase 1 of the Academy consists of a 6-week structured training program designed by elite coaches and a roster of group rides and races. From an anticipated pool of over 5000 graduates, 10 under-22 riders will be selected to complete an additional two weeks of riding and training. From this group, three top finalists will continue to the Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka November training camp in Cape Town, South Africa, where one will earn the opportunity to race with the Continental Squad in 2018.
“Zwift has proven itself to not only be a rigorous data and training platform, but also a place where cyclists around the world can come together, engage, and become better riders,” says Doug Ryder, Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka’s team principal. “We want to take part in this unique experience to not only identify and discover talent, but also to educate others about our charity partner Qhubeka, an organization that works to bring rural communities across Africa closer to nutritious food, clean water, schools, employment, and health care by providing them with utility bicycles.”
Qhubeka uses their specially designed bikes to help empower these rural communities and provide that crucial mobilization opportunity. For every 10 successful male graduates of Zwift Academy’s first phase, Zwift will donate a Qhubeka Bike to a community in need. Zwift has committed to funding 500 Qhubeka Bikes with hopes to provide many more.
Steve Cummings, Team Dimension Data rider and Level 18 Zwifter is already a fan. “The team are super supportive about joining forces with Zwift. Many of our staff and riders are keen Zwifters, so it’s a great fit,” he said. “Zwift isn’t only a credible training platform, but a cool way to engage with our fans and support the Qhubeka mission.”
To learn more Zwift on over to academy.zwift.com.