This Zwift Academy winner women’s cycling blog was originally published on the 17th March 2022. With the new season of the Zwift Academy well underway with the finalists to be announced shortly, have a read of the 2021 Zwift Academy winner’s thoughts, Dutchwoman, Maud Oudeman.
Hi everyone! My name is Maud Oudeman, I’m eighteen years old and from Nijmegen in the Netherlands. A few months ago my biggest dream became reality. After winning the Zwift Academy of 2021, I have now become a part of the Canyon//SRAM Racing team. Sometimes I still need to pinch myself if this is all real! I have looked up to this team for a few years now. And it really is a dream to become a pro cyclist for them. I am very excited to share my stories for the upcoming season/year with you on the Voxwomen blog.
It is a dream that I wanted to chase only from just a short time ago. When I was a young child, I never rode a road bike. I always had a passion for dancing and musical theatre. But during that time I felt I wanted to try out something that was more on the athletic side. So, when I was almost fourteen years old, I did my first ride on the road bike. For a few years I combined it with running and swimming in triathlon, and eventually made the switch to only road cycling in the summer of 2020.
I get a lot of questions about why I made that decision because before making that choice, I had only done a few cycling races. The answer is simple: Zwift. The platform of Zwift allowed me to show my strengths on the bike. And as the Zwift community grew every day, I got some messages from people who saw my results after races. It made me think about it and after lockdown I decided to start doing some road races, and I loved it! Zwift opened my eyes to the world of road cycling, so I had no doubt when I started the Zwift Academy of 2021. And it perhaps makes it even more special that I have now become a pro cyclist because of a pathway Zwift provided.
When signing up for the Zwift Academy I would have never thought that I’d make it out on top, or even to the finals. After making it to the finals week in Mallorca, I already felt really grateful for the experience. We had to do some very hard challenges, but it was also an incredible experience. And to hear my name at the end of the week announced as the winner was a big surprise. It took me a while to let it sink in that I won. In just a short amount of time my biggest dream became a reality.
It sure is a life changing outcome, but I could not be happier about it. The new year – and my first year as a pro – started in the Netherlands at home. With the very cold winter temperatures I was very excited to be going to a sunny Mallorca for our first team camp. Mallorca was also the place where I gave everything to fight for the pro contract in November during the finals. But this time there were no challenges and when I arrived, I met my teammates for the first time. It was really special for me to be together with the whole team and to meet everyone. All the team members – staff and riders – have been extremely welcoming and I immediately felt that I was in a good place. And also to see the bikes and the kit… because how beautiful is our new kit?!
In February we already had our second team camp and in between the two camps I stayed in Girona with former Zwift Academy winners Neve Bradbury and Ella Harris. At the team camps I learned so much from all the team members. Not only on the training side but also off the bike.
With the team camps done and dusted, it’s now time to look ahead for the racing season. I feel like it is an advantage for me living in the Netherlands, when I look at the situation of the other Zwift Academy winners coming from the other side of the world. For my first races I can still live at home in Nijmegen, where I live with my parents and my sister.
I feel a combination of nerves and excitement. I will do the absolute best that I can. I know that coming from the junior level and joining a WorldTour Team is a big step. And during the race I might have to pinch myself like I did in November in Mallorca when I heard my name as the winner. To ride WorldTour races as a pro cyclist in the Canyon//SRAM kit is really is a dream come true.
Thanks for reading my blog! In the upcoming months I will write more about my journey. But in the meantime, you can follow my journey on Instagram @maudoudeman.
Till next time!
Having spent one season with Canyon//SRAM, Maud Oudeman penned a contract with Jumbo Visma in 2023 and will continue to race for Team Visma | Lease a Bike in 2024. This was the first of her Zwift Academy winner women’s cycling blog posts.