Leah Thorvilson, former U.S. Olympic trials marathon runner and the first Zwift Academy winner, will re-sign with CANYON//SRAM Racing for the 2018 season.
Thorvilson won the groundbreaking talent ID program in 2016, where participants were invited to try out for a UCI professional contract with CANYON//SRAM Racing by riding Zwift, the global online training platform for cyclists.
“Leah’s first season was a baptism of fire. She’s an incredible athlete but that’s just the first part of the jigsaw puzzle. Anyone following Leah’s progress will understand the stresses she’s been placed under, from giving up a full time job in the US, to racing the Belgian cobbles only months later, to racing La Course by Le Tour de France in July” says Ronny Lauke, CANYON//SRAM Racing Team Manager. “Her resilience and character has won the admiration of team staff and we’re committed to investing in her talent through 2018.”
Slowly but surely, Thorvilson has been adapting to the life of pro cyclist on and off the bike. She finished the 2017 season with 30 race days under her belt, having spent a significant amount of time away from home in the US.
“Talk about being thrown in at the deep end! It’s been an incredible journey and a totally surreal experience,” said Leah after her first season with the CANYON//SRAM Racing team. “Prior to Zwift Academy, I’d never have guessed this was possible. Fast forward 12 months and I feel I’m only just getting to grips with life in the peloton. There’s still a lot for me to learn and I’ll be dedicating this winter to improving my technical skills, before returning to Europe in the springtime. I’m so grateful for the opportunity and I can’t wait to begin this next chapter with the CANYON//SRAM Racing team.”
Thorvilson said in 2018 she would be aiming to help the team achieve its race day goals as much as possible. “Without question that’s my main aim. Personally I’d also like to take some podiums on the Belgium and Dutch national level races if I race them again next year, and to have a good performance in the time trial and road race at US nationals.”
“Last season I worked very hard, but I think I also gave myself some grace with the end result. Everything was new and I kept looking only at the positives. This coming year I will be holding myself to a higher standard. I was given this chance because people believe in me and that I can be more. I aim to prove them right,” added Thorvilson.
The announcement comes as the 2017 Zwift Academy program last week narrowed down to 10 semi-finalists who will now battle it out before being further narrowed to three finalists in mid-November.
“Zwift has showed itself as a credible talent identification platform and the continuation of the Zwift Academy in 2017, alongside Leah’s contract renewal, has proven that CANYON//SRAM Racing are committed to the project vision. Together we’re adding a new dimension to women’s cycling and professional sport in general,” commented Zwift CEO and Founder, Eric Min.
The 2017 Zwift Academy will conclude at the team’s first camp in early December where one winner will be announced to join Leah in the CANYON//SRAM Racing 2018 roster.