Le Roux Wins 2023 Zwift Academy

CANYON//SRAM Generation and Zwift are thrilled to announce Maddie Le Roux as the winner of the 2023 Zwift Academy. This is the eighth year the women’s Zwift Academy has been held as a talent identification program, with the winner earning the ultimate prize of a professional contract.

More than 108,000 Zwifters participated in the 2023 Zwift Academy program, with three women and three men joining respective team training camps in Denia, Spain. At the finals, all the finalists participated in challenges and races on the road and a Zwift race. They also met with coaches and team staff, then joined the group rides with athletes from their potential future teams. South Africa’s Maddie Le Roux and Germany’s Louis Kitzki set themselves apart from the other finalists to win contracts with CANYON//SRAM Generation and Alpecin-Deceuninck Development Team, respectively.

Le Roux distinguished herself by having strong power numbers and a lot of race experience. Viewing this as her last opportunity to take her cycling career to the next level, Le Roux approached each challenge with an intense yet calm focus.

Adam Szabó, Sports Director at CANYON//SRAM Generation, said of Maddie’s performances, “Maddie excelled in many of the challenges, but where she stood out from all the finalists was supporting her designated leaders during the Zwift race. This moment was a turning point in the week and we were sure this was what we were looking for in our team. We’re excited to welcome her to the team.”

Le Roux has a triathlon background and a university degree in teaching. She has been focusing solely on cycling for the past three years.

“Throughout my triathlon career, people used to tell me that if I focus more on my cycling, maybe I could make something of it. During the COVID-19 pandemic, I tried Zwift and at the end of 2020, I decided to give cycling a shot. I didn’t want to look back one day and think ‘what if?’ I did some races with a domestic team in 2021. I came onto the radar of the World Cycle Centre (WCC) team and, for the last two years, I was living in Aigle, Switzerland, racing for the WCC Women’s Continental Team,” said Le Roux.

“Unfortunately, transitioning from the WCC to another team was more challenging than anticipated. I came home in October last year with no prospects of a team for 2024. I entered Zwift Academy to knock on as many doors as possible to try and make it back to Europe. I felt that I hadn’t worked so hard only to come this far, and I wasn’t ready to give up on my dream. Here we are, winner of the 2023 Zwift Academy! Still quite unbelievable, to be completely honest,” described an overwhelmed Le Roux.

“Winning Zwift Academy is by far my biggest cycling accomplishment to date. I would describe myself as a climber, but I carry a good 1-2 minute punch, and whilst I haven’t had much experience with time trials, I think I could be quite good in this discipline. I am a very supportive teammate and someone you can always count on, on or off the bike.”

Le Roux added, “The whole Zwift Academy finals experience was amazing! I was way calmer than I thought I would be. For each challenge, my goal was simple: give your best effort, however, it looked like on that day. I managed my emotions and nerves quite well throughout the week. Everyone from CANYON//SRAM was so friendly and open to us finalists that it felt like we were already part of the team. I truly enjoyed the whole experience.”

“It hasn’t sunk in yet. It feels like that was a dream, and I am back to reality now, where things like that never happened to me. On the way home, whilst sitting at the airport, seeing the teaser video, I started to cry. Winning the Zwift Academy is enormous for me. I know I need to do loads of work, but I am excited for the start of this new chapter.”

“In 2024, I’m looking forward to learning from the best in the business. I look forward to being a part of a team where they want to help us develop, learn and grow into the best cyclists we can be. I have some individual goals I’ve set out for this season, such as wearing the best climber jersey in a race and being more present in the front part of the peloton. With winning this contract, I also want to use this opportunity to learn as much as possible and be a teammate my team can depend on.” 

Le Roux will represent South Africa at the upcoming African Games in Ghana in March, where several of her new teammates from CANYON//SRAM Generation will also be representing their respective countries.

The 2024 roster for CANYON//SRAM Generation is now complete and an exciting one, with nine riders from nine different countries: Selam Amha Gerefiel (Ethiopia), Diane Ingabire (Rwanda), Anastasiya Kolesava, Maddie Le Roux (South Africa), Jule Märkl (Germany), Florence Nakagwa (Uganda), Awen Roberts (Great Britain), Daniela Schmidsberger (Austria) and Ese Lovina Ukpeseraye (Nigeria).

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