Zwift has just released the details of this year’s much-anticipated Zwift Academy (ZA) program. There will be three academies in the final months of 2020: road cycling, triathlon, and running. Each academy is 8 weeks long, and there will be some overlap since the academies start 2 weeks apart (dates below). Open enrollment begins on September 8th.
While each academy still includes a contest with finalists winning big prizes like pro contracts or big race tickets, the focus has shifted to the common athlete. Unlock You is the timely phrase Zwift is using to encourage athletes of all abilities to sign up for ZA and push themselves to new levels of fitness.
Zwift Academy Road
Wildly popular ever since its initial launch, ZA Road is now in its fifth year. It features separate training programs and events for men and women.
ZA Road Schedule
- Registration opens on web and in-game September 8
- Program begins October 1
- Registration closes November 1
- Program ends November 25
New: Segment Rides
An intriguing new event format is being unveiled for this year’s Zwift Academy. Dubbed “Segment Rides”, these events allow Zwifters to test themselves on two different segments per ride, much like you might do outdoors on particular sections of road which are well-suited to particular efforts.
Innsbruck will feature two segments designed to test Sprint Power on the 300m Innsbruck Sprint Forward and Threshold Power on the Innsbruck KOM (7.43km, elevation gain 696m). Held in Watopia, the second Segment Ride will test Anaerobic Power on the Hilly KOM Forward (0.90km, elevation gain 50m) and VO2 Max on the Volcano KOM (3.75km, elevation gain 120m).
To graduate from the 2020 Zwift Academy Road you must complete 8 workouts as well as any combination of 4 group rides or races. Those who wish to compete for either of the two professional cycling contracts (see “Grand Prizes” below) must complete all 8 workouts as well as two races (Richmond and France) and both Segment Rides (Innsbruck and Watopia).
The workouts haven’t yet been released, but they were designed exclusively for Zwift Academy by the two new coaches from Dig Deep Coaching (see below). The workouts are designed to improving your overall cycling abilities, no matter your current fitness level.
Workouts can be ridden in group workout events, but they will also be available in the workouts menu for solo efforts. (And if you really want to get at it with friends, organize a group workout via Meetups!)
New for this year, Group Rides will be run at two different paces 1.7-2.2 w/kg or 2.2-2.7w/kg for men and 1.2-1.7 w/kg or 1.7-2.2w/kg for women. Races will be run on two different circuits: Richmond’s 2015 World’s Course (flat with some punchy climbs) and France’s La Rein where the climbers can shine up the Ven-Top mountain.
Like past academies, there will be a series of progressive unlocks as riders make their way through the program:
- Cycling Cap
- ZA Kit
- A special bike unlock from Canyon!
As in past years, ZA Road Women will be vying for a 1-year pro contract with the CANYON//SRAM team!
For the men, there’s a change this year – ZA Road Men will be battling for a spot on the Alpecin-Fenix team, instead of Team Dimension Data (now NTT) as in past years. Another change: this is open to anyone 18 or older, not just a U23 rider.
In another change from past years, there will be no semifinalist round for ZA Road 2020. Instead, 5 finalists from the Men’s academy and 5 from the Women’s academy will be selected. Finals will take place approximately in December, pending lockdown concerns.
This year’s ZA Road coaches are new to the ZA coaching role, but they’re not new to cycling, Zwift, or coaching in any way! Stephen and Dan are experienced and strong bike racers, both indoors and out.
Stephen is a lifelong racer who’s represented Ireland at Worlds and European Championships. His goal is to give every rider a 360° view of their physiology and strengths. He designed ZA’s structured workouts as a journey – one that educates and asks you to exert hard efforts on the bike. See his ZwiftPower profile, or read his bio on DigDeepCoaching.com.
Dan was born on a mountain bike, and his medal-winning history as a Brit racer speaks for itself. He used a rich knowledge of training, recovery, and structure to create a program that’s as tough as it is intelligent. Follow it and discover the building blocks to unlock your inner power. He races on Zwift with Saris + The Pros Closet – see his ZwiftPower profile, or read his bio on DigDeepCoaching.com.
Zwift Academy Run
For the first time ever, Zwift is rolling out an academy just for runners!
ZA Run Schedule
- Registration open on web September 8
- Registration open in-game September 15
- Program begins October 15
- Registration closes November 8
- Program ends December 9
To graduate from the inaugural ZA Run, Zwifters will have to complete 8 designed workouts designed with a focus on improving both short and long-distance running times. Graduates must also complete 2 events (races or group runs) at 5k or 10k distances.
Workouts can be done in group events, but they will also be available in the workouts menu for solo efforts. (You may also organize a group workout via Meetup.)
Runners will progressively unlock in-game kit while making their way through the program:
- Running Socks
- Adidas Shoes
- Running Cap
- ZA Running Shirt
Grand prize is a spot on a supported Zwift ZA Run team that will compete at the prestigious 2021 Berlin Marathon. A total of 6 finalists will be chosen for the grand prize.
An expert endurance running coach, Terrance emphasizes total integration of sports science, strength, conditioning, and sports therapy. With an extensive background blending high-altitude training and sports nutrition, his athletes consistently achieve peak results at championship events.
With 20 years of experience as a pro athlete, 3x Olympian Jen Rhines coaches runners of all ages and ability levels, from amateurs with no experience to Olympic hopefuls. She also designs the training plans for the AKTIV Against Cancer charity runners who compete in the Boston and NYC Marathons. Learn more at JenRhines.com >
Zwift Academy Tri
The first iteration of Zwift Academy Tri 2020 was in its final stages when COVID hit and shut down the world of competitive athletics. Because of that, this is actually the second ZA Tri 2020! Once again, the goal is to earn a spot on the “best supported amateur team in tri” – the Zwift Academy Tri team – and to qualify for Ironman Kona.
ZA Tri Schedule
- Registration open on web September 8
- Registration open in-game September 28
- Program begins October 29
- Registration closes November 29
- Program ends December 23
To graduate from the 2020 Zwift Academy Tri you must complete 5 cycling workouts and 1 TT race, as well as 5 running workouts and 1 5k race.
Workouts can be completed in group workout events, but they will also be available in the workouts menu for solo efforts. (You may also organize a group workout via Meetups.)
Like past academies, there will be a series of progressive unlocks as athletes make their way through the program:
- Cycling Socks
- Cycling Cap
- ZA Kit
- Running Cap
- Running Socks
- ZA Run Shirt
- Final unlock: Specialized TT Helmet
Grand prize is a spot on the well-supported Zwift ZA Tri team with a goal to qualify for Kona. A total of 6 finalists will be chosen for the grand prize.
Coach and Mentors
The ZA Tri coach and mentor team is returning from previous seasons:
Dr. Dan Plews (Coach)
Dr. Dan Plews is a world-class coach and athlete. A trained academic, Plews has a PhD in exercise physiology. He’s worked with 25 World Champs and Olympians, in sports like triathlon, rowing, and sailing. But long course triathlon is his passion, having coached athletes to sub 8 hour performances over the long course distance and numerous 70.3 and Long Course wins. On top of all that, Plews holds the record— 8 hours and 24 minutes— for the fastest ever age-grouper in Kona. Learn more at EndureIQ.com >
Sarah True (Mentor)
Sarah True is an American athlete who competes in triathlon. She represented the United States in triathlon in 2012, finishing in fourth place, and at the 2016 Summer Olympics. True is the winner of the 2007 ITU Aquathlon World Championships and finished in second place in the 2014 ITU World Triathlon Series.
Tim Don (Mentor)
A three-time Olympian. World Champion in triathlon and duathlon. Countless ITU World Cup and Ironman podium appearances. Great Britain’s Tim Don was a legend even before the 2017 Ironman South American Championship in Florianopolis, Brazil. That race cemented Tim’s place as a true triathlon great as the new IronmanWorld Record.
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