The 2021 Zwift Academy is open for enrolment today, marking the sixth year of the program. The eight week online training course – officially starting on the 30th August, and running to the 24th October – offers the tantalizing bait of a professional contract at CANYON//SRAM Racing. Alternatively, if you’re not dreaming of going pro, it offers the experience of a comprehensive training plan, taking part alongside a community of thousands.
The program will involve six workouts, two recovery rides, and, as a brand-new addition, two benchmarking rides. These will bookend the program, with segments testing sprint, aerobic and anaerobic work, giving you a way to see how your fitness develops through the program.
There are also orientation workouts on offer, designed for those who are new to the Academy, or even to Zwift.
Even if you’re not aiming for the professional contract, the Zwift Academy can offer an exciting training experience alongside thousands of participants.
Stephen Gallagher, who designed the Zwift Academy workout plan, said the programme is designed “to offer even more for those looking to take on the challenge of completing a training plan. The plan covers the basic principles of training and should be a fun and rewarding experience for all abilities.”
Gallagher draws particular attention to the new addition of segments: “Everyone knows what it’s like to beat their personal best on a climb or sprint, so we’ve introduced this element to bring a bit of fun to the ‘testing’.”
Those who really stand out might find themselves invited to the Zwift Academy finals and under consideration for a professional contract. Ronny Lauke, Program Manager at CANYON // SRAM Racing, said, “This is our team’s sixth year with the Zwift Academy and we have had fantastic talent come through the programme.”
“Every year the competition seems to get closer and closer. This makes decisions tough but shows the strength and depth in the programme.”
The former winners of a professional contract have been: Leah Thorvilson (2016), Tanja Erath (2017), Ella Harris (2018), Jessica Pratt (2019), and Neve Bradbury (2020) – who spoke on Vox Women about how Zwift offered her a way to train effectively even during harsh lockdown, and how the Zwift Academy was a way to make herself known to a European-based team, all the way from Australia.
Those interested in competing for the professional contract will have to be slightly more intense: everything in the main program, as well as a time trial and an additional Pro Contender workout, both of which have to be done by October 1st. They’ll also need to be wearing a heart rate monitor, and to join up to Zwift with a smart trainer or power meter.
As Neve Bradbury said: “I’d recommend to anyone looking for a cycling challenge to give Zwift academy a go! You never know, you might end up with a pro contract!”
See further details here. There is also a men’s contract on offer at Alpecin Fenix.