The Zwift Academy talent search program that the popular virtual cycling platform runs in collaboration with the teams Alpecin-Deceuninck on the men’s side and Canyon//SRAM on the women’s side has already chosen the two winners of its eighth edition who have earned a one-year professional contract with these two squads.

Eight years ago, from the virtual cycling platform Zwift, the benchmark in terms of training tools on the roller, the Zwift Academy project was born, a project that emerged in collaboration with the Alpecin team to which Zwift has been linked for years and Canyon//SRAM on the women’s side.

The objective was clear: to look for talent among those cyclists who make massive use of this application for their training. Cyclists who have been able to take another path, different from the classic one of going from schools through the various categories of competition to reach professionalism if they have all the qualities and are lucky enough to have all the pieces fit together.

Zwift Academy tries to find cyclists with qualities for professional cycling among those who come from other sports, who have not had the opportunity to take the classic path in cycling either for having arrived late to it or for residing in countries without that tradition in this sport.

All of the above through a series of virtual competitions and training sessions to make a sieve to select the finalists who would go on to the final test in the teams’ winter training camps and where the winners are chosen.

In 2023-2024, more than 108,000 applicants took part in the virtual part of the Zwift Academy. Of these, 6 finalists were selected and went to the Canyon//SRAM and Alpecin-Deceuninck training camps in Denia, Alicante, where they joined the teams’ routine, did the same training as the professionals and, of course, the typical tests that are faced in these camps and that served to determine the real level on the road of the three finalists.

The team directors, with everything in hand: the numbers, the way they handled themselves on the bike, the way they interacted with the rest of the teammates, the discipline in the training sessions, etc., ended up choosing the South African rider Maddie Le Roux and the German Louis Kitzki.

Maddie impressed with her strength and racing experience. “She proved her worth by excelling in supporting her leaders during the Zwift race,” said Canyon//SRAM director Adam Szabó of her choice.

Louis won her place thanks to her talent, ambition and potential in a final that was extremely close between the three contenders. “He has the combination of a young age and an awareness that his weaknesses are just points to work on. Louis in our opinion has the most workable profile in the long run,” said Kristof Kegel, Alpecin-Deceuninck’s performance director.