In what surely is a first, the Canyon//SRAM Racing women’s professional cycling team recently announced a partnership with Zwift, a “social fitness platform” for cyclists. Together, starting in March, female amateur riders around the world will be invited to try out for a professional contract by riding Zwift in a talent contest that will yield a winner who will join the Canyon//SRAM Racing team.
“Unfortunately the development pathways for female riders don’t compare to the men’s side of the sport,” said Tiffany Cromwell, a Canyon//SRAM rider. “Cycling’s stars possess extraordinary physical attributes and we’re confident one or two of those rough diamonds are out there to be unearthed on the Zwift platform.“
Zwift and Canyon//SRAM performance staff are currently developing an initial series of tasks, likely to comprise of group rides and structured training programs, to identify the physical attributes and potential of riders who enter the program, which is being called the Canyon//SRAM Racing Zwift Academy Project.
The field of competitors will be whittled down through 2016 until a final selection of 3 riders will compete on virtual and real roads for the opportunity to become a pro rider in 2017.
“The world is full of young cyclists with raw talent that we may not be noticing,” said Ronny Lauke, Canyon//SRAM Racing director. “That’s a huge problem for the sport and we want to challenge this as much as possible. Of course, there are other criteria to becoming a pro cyclist, like attitude, bike handling and a good tactical brain, but without an exceptional engine you won’t get too far. This is going to be an exciting adventure with Zwift.”
Zwift touts itself as “the first company to use massive multiplayer gaming technology to bring the outdoor cycling experience indoors. Athletes from around the globe can ride with each other in rich, 3Dgenerated worlds simply by connecting their existing devices (e.g. trainers, power meters, heart rate monitors, etc.) wirelessly via open industry standard ANT+.”
The company says actual racing on its platform may be in the offing down the road.