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Ella Harris wins 2018 CANYON//SRAM Zwift Academy
Today, CANYON//SRAM Racing join Zwift in announcing the winner of the 2018 CANYON//SRAM Zwift Academy. After a challenging week of finals at the team’s first training camp in Málaga, Spain, Ella Harris from New Zealand has emerged victorious and will now sign a contract with CANYON//SRAM Racing for 2019.
The third year of the innovative talent identification program saw participation numbers double with 5000 women taking part. Each year the CANYON//SRAM Zwift Academy provides women the opportunity to challenge their fitness, join an inspiring community of women who ride, and the chance for some to achieve their dream of a professional contract with CANYON//SRAM Racing.
“What another fantastic year it’s been for the CANYON//SRAM Zwift Academy,” said Kate Veronneau, Women’s Zwift Academy Lead at Zwift. “While the champions of the Zwift Academy receive the headline, and rightly so, it’s important to highlight the thousands of women who took part in the 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.”
After structured workouts, testing and training, three finalists: Ella Harris, Ione Johnson (New Zealand) and Mary Wilkinson (UK) were selected to be put through their paces with various challenges on and off the bike at the team’s training camp.
“The Zwift finals were very rewarding, challenging, and incredibly insightful. It was a very tough and demanding competition throughout the week, that tested me both mentally and physically. Despite being the most significant challenge I’ve ever completed, being immersed in the team for a week has taught me so much already,” said Harris.
The 20 year old from Dunedin, who is currently studying food marketing and already has some experience with racing, said she couldn’t be more thrilled to win the professional contract.
“I’m absolutely ecstatic to be joining such an incredible team of world class riders at CANYON//SRAM Racing that I’ve looked up to for so long. To join this team was my ultimate goal in terms of my cycling development and career. I never envisaged that I would achieve this aspiration so quickly. To have both a career and sporting path laid out in front of me for the next 12 months is going to give me the best possible opportunity to become the greatest rider I can be, and I just can’t wait to get stuck into it,” beamed Harris.
Ronny Lauke, Team Manager at CANYON//SRAM Racing said he was continuously impressed by the success of the innovative program.
“This is our third year with the Zwift Academy, so for us it’s a proven form of talent identification. Leah (Thorvilson) proved herself to earn a contract renewal for 2018, and we’ve seen some great talent with Tanja (Erath) this year. We’re delighted Tanja 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,” added Lauke.
Harris will now return home to race New Zealand road national championships in early January, and hopes to make a good start to her 2019 season in the CANYON//SRAM Racing colours.
“In 2019, I’m aiming to make a positive contribution and really add value to the team, both on and off the bike. I hope to learn and improve as much as I can by experiencing different races and also through being surrounded by a wonderful team and learning from everyone involved, both staff and riders,” said Harris.
“Ella has been fantastic – huge congratulations!” adds Eric Min, Zwift Co-Founder and CEO. “I’m extremely excited to see how she gets on in her first season at CANYON//SRAM at the World Tour level. Tanja did us proud last year and delivered on her potential out on the road. I’m sure she will serve as a great mentor to Ella throughout 2019.”