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Tanja Erath: 'No second thoughts' when joining Canyon-SRAM after winning Zwift Academy

Former triathlete surprised herself by winning the Zwift Academy, but there was never any doubt that she'd take her place on Canyon-SRAM

Back in December, Tanja Erath became the second winner of the Zwift Academy, earning a one-year professional contract with Canyon-SRAM. She followed in the footsteps of inaugural winner Leah Thorvilson, who will now be her roommate after a move to the team's base in Girona.

'It’s nice to have somebody leading you into the cycling scene and into the pro team. I will appreciate that in the coming season,' Erath says of Thorvilson.

Erath and her fellow Zwift Academy hopefuls were able to benefit from Thorvilson's advice long before her place in the team was assured.

'We had a messaging group between Leah and the finalists, and she was just telling us to calm down, to not be nervous, and what we can expect from the team.'

What's more, the new team member was reassured by her mentor's attitude towards the squad.

'Having her around in the team was good because you know that somebody already went the same way into the team, and she’s 100% behind it.'

Before moving into cycling, the 28-year-old has excelled in triathlons. A running injury halted her running and saw her focus on cycling, which led to the Zwift Academy and eventually a pro contract.

Many riders will have been racing since their early-teens before coming up through their local club or national performance structure. For Erath, however, winning a computer game landed her in a pro team.

Entering the team in this way had given the German concerns about being an outsider within the team, but she quickly discovered that this wasn't the case.

'I was afraid that it was going to be like that but I think as always in sport as soon as you show your performance they’re going to accept you no matter what, and we all get along,' she says with sincerity.

'This is our second training camp now and it's really working out perfectly.'

Despite wondering how she might be received by her new teammates, there was never any doubt as to whether she'd take the opportunity to find out.

'When I received the email saying I'd got into the finals, and that means if you say yes you have to race for one season, you have to move to Girona, it took me like two minutes to answer,' she says, adding, 'because that’s what I really wanted and that’s what I was looking forward to when I started the Academy.

'I never thought I’m going to reach that point, to even think about it, but when I reached that point I was so sure that I was going to do it.

'No second thoughts.'

Making her debut for the team, Erath started the Setmana Ciclista Valenciana on 22nd February. Active from the start, she won the first intermediate sprint and took second in the second intermediate sprint, but a crash later in the stage forced her to abandon.

Given the all clear after a hospital visit, the new rider will next be in action at the Healthy Ageing Tour in the Netherlands, from 4th to 8th April.

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