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Ella Harris becomes third rider to earn Canyon-Sram pro contract through Zwift Academy

Joe Robinson
17 Dec 2018

Young New Zealander becomes youngest victor of academy as last year's winner earns contract extension

Ella Harris has become the third woman to win the Canyon-Sram Zwift Academy Programme joining Tanja Erath and Leah Thorvilson as the lastest rider to earn a professional contract through the virtual cycling app.

Harris has been handed a one-year deal with the Canyon-Sram team after seeing off 5,000 fellow competitors for the prize, more than double the number of participants from 2017, and becomes the youngest winner of the event aged just 20-years-old.

The New Zealander was among three finalists to be invited to the team's end of season training camp in Malaga, Spain after having impressed in the 10 structured workouts and races set by Zwift during the academy.

Eventually, Harris saw off Brit Mary Wilkinson and fellow Kiwi Ione Johnson to secure a ride with the German team for 2019, following further tests and observations at the team's training camp.

Youngster Harris was left shocked following the announcement in Spain but realises the hard work that is still to come. 

'I can’t believe I did it! I’m so happy, I’ve followed Leah and Tanja and what they’ve achieved the past two years, and it’s inspired me to push myself during the Academy this year,' Harris said.

'I entered hoping, and wanting, to win but when I heard my name called out, it was a feeling of complete shock!

'Now I’m going home to celebrate with my family and friends before focusing on training for my first year in the WorldTour. It’s unbelievable.'

Harris will now team up with fellow Zwift Academy champion, Tanja Erath, who extended her one-year contract with the team last week. Leah Thorvilson also rode for the team in two seasons, 2017 and 2018, winning the inaugural competition at the age of 38. 

The German team have now benefited from this unique scouting system for a third consecutive season with team manager, Ronny Lauke, commenting on how it has now become a 'proven form' of finding talent.

'This is our third year with the Zwift Academy, so for us, it's a proven form of talent identification,' Lauke said. 'Leah proved herself to earn a contract renewal for 2018, and we’ve seen the same through Tanja this year. We’re delighted she 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!'

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