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Lavrič wins Zwift Academy and Dimension Data pro contract

Joe Robinson
20 Nov 2018

Young Slovenian latest rider to earn pro contract with Dimension Data development team following virtual competition

Slovenian youngster Martin Lavirič has been crowned the winner of the second-ever men's Zwift Academy programme earning him a professional contract with the Dimension Data for Qhubeka under 23 team.

The 19-year-old saw off competition from 30,000 fellow entrants via the virtual reality training app to be the crowned champion in Cape Town, South Africa, fending off Alex West of New Zealand and Great Britain's Ollie Peckover to the one-year contract.

The young rider will now join up with the team in its European base of Tuscany, Italy.

Lavrič was one of three finalists to be selected for a training camp in the team's home of South Africa in which the trio trained with the Dimension Data WorldTour squad, including sprinter Mark Cavendish.

After close observation and a series of tests, Lavrič was deemed strongest and announced the winner, much to his surprise.

'This is a dream come true. I entered Zwift Academy with an eye on a semi-final place, as I wanted to win an Elite smart trainer, but I walked away with a pro contract,' said Lavrič.

'I have experience racing at a UCI Continental level, but this was a huge opportunity for me to get noticed by a top professional cycling team. It will be a huge change, but I’m really relishing the opportunity.' 

To get to victory, Lavrič completed a host of regimented workouts and races on Zwift - open to all users - throughout the open stage and semi-final.

Lavrič, alongside West and Peckover, was then hand-picked by a panel of expert judges based upon his power profiles and results in the varied Zwift races.

One of those expert judges was Dimension Data U23 coach, Elliot Lipski, who is sure that Martin has what it takes to transfer his ability from the static trainer to the professional peloton. 

'I think the pool of talent goes even deeper this year. It’s not just a numbers game, it’s also important to see how the riders react to different scenarios out on the road, how they communicate and how they fit in with the team,' said Lipski.

'These are all incredibly important skills when fitting into a team that spends a lot of time on the road and needs to function as a unit.

'Having spent some time with the riders here in Cape Town, we’re really confident in Martin. He showed real instinct out on the road, and the other riders took to him well.

'He’s got a great programme with us at Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka and a direct route into the WorldTour if he proves himself. Now is just the beginning.'

Lavrič joins a growing list of Zwift Academy alumni since Leah Thorvilson won the inaugural event, earning herself a contract with Canyon-Sram, back in 2016.