5,000 applicants, 3 finalists, 1 pro contract. Congratulations Ella Harris!

Canyon//SRAM Racing has announced their choice of Ella Harris as the Zwift Academy women’s finalist who will receive a 1-year pro contract with their world tour pro team. Ella (who hails from Dunedin, New Zealand) was up against fellow Kiwi Ione Johnson and Mary Wilkinson (England) in competition for the contract. The three ladies trained together last week in Málaga, Spain under the watchful eye of Canyon//SRAM team members and management to decide who would ride with the team for 2019.

Ella will join her new team based in Girona, Spain beginning January 2019.

Journey to a Contract

All three finalists had to complete a week of structured workouts, Zwift races and road drills with Canyon-SRAM team members at last week’s camp. Each exercise was designed to make sure the winner has what it takes to make it as a professional cyclist. But this week was only the end of a much longer process.

The 2018 edition of Zwift Academy saw 5,000 women take part, more than double the previous year. For many of the participants, joining Zwift Academy was a way to build fitness in a community of supportive ladies.

“While the champions of the Zwift Academy are the ones who grab the headlines, and rightly so, it’s important to highlight the thousands of women who took part in the 2019 Zwift Academy – many with very different objectives to the winner. It’s fantastic to be a part of such a community and championing women’s cycling.” – Kate Veronneau, Women’s Zwift Academy Lead at Zwift

All three CANYON//SRAM Zwift Academy finalists had to undergo a strict series of workouts and races just to make the initial semi-finalist selection of 12 riders. Those 12 then took on additional workouts and races which gave the Academy’s panel of expert coaches the opportunity to look at each rider’s power profiles, allowing them to precisely ascertain each of the rider’s strengths and weaknesses. Finally, the live training camp provided an opportunity for the CANYON//SRAM team to watch how the girls handle their bikes on the road and interact with fellow riders.

At 20 years of age, Ella is the youngest rider to ever win the Zwift Academy contract.

“I can’t believe I did it! I’m so happy. I’ve followed Leah and Tanja and what they’ve achieved the past two years, and it’s inspired me to push myself during the Academy this year. I entered hoping, and wanting, to win but when I heard my name called out, it was a feeling of complete shock! Now I’m going home to celebrate with my family and friends before focusing on training for my first year in the World Tour. It’s unbelievable.”

About the Team

Ella is the third Zwifter to win a pro contract with CANYON//SRAM.

“Leah proved herself to earn a contract renewal for 2018, and we’ve seen the same through Tanja this year. We’re delighted she has chosen to remain with us through 2019.

Ella is another great prospect who showed her all-round abilities during the week here in Málaga. No doubt she will learn a lot from next year on how to adapt to life as a professional rider away from home. I really look forward to welcoming Ella to the team and what she can do out on the road next season!” – Ronny Lauke, CANYON//SRAM Racing Team Manager

Launched in 2016, CANYON//SRAM Racing is a professional women’s cycling team racing at the UCI Women’s WorldTour level. From the solid foundation of experienced riders to the go-getting attitude of the younger riders, this diverse group of women seem to feed off and inspire each other. With a team motto of ‘better together’ when they are aligned they are part of something special, and even more extraordinary, these women create something special to watch.They generate a momentum and atmosphere that is unique to CANYON//SRAM Racing. They promote women’s professional cycling, they inspire people to ride all around the globe, and they are committed to delivering incredible stories.