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Zwift Academy winner selected for Road World Championships

Ella Harris will represent New Zealand in Yorkshire this September. Photo: Canyon-Sram / Thomas Maheux

George Smith
2 Sep 2019

Despite being in the midst of only her first year of professional racing, 21-year-old Ella Harris has been selected to represent New Zealand at the forthcoming UCI Road World Championships later this month in Yorkshire.

Despite her relative inexperience, Harris has already secured some impressive results, winning the youth classification at the Vuelta Burgos and coming 4th overall at the Colorado Classic. Not to mention the supporting role she has played helping her teammates achieve numerous podium finishes.

‘I’m really excited and honoured to be off to Yorkshire,' she said upon hearing the news. 'It’s been a big goal of mine to one day reach a World Championships but I didn’t think it would be for a while. Now that the selection has sunk in, I’m already a little nervous just thinking about the magnitude and significance of the event.

‘At the end of the day it’s just another race so I’ll try and focus on it like that, but at the same time it’s pretty surreal to be competing in the biggest race of the year and one where a rainbow jersey will be awarded.'

The Dunedin rider's big break comes after she progressed through the Zwift Academy, an eight-week sprinting and endurance training programme that also acts as a talent competition to find the next pro rider for the Canyon-Sram racing team.

‘I knew from the very start of the year that racing in Europe for a team like Canyon-Sram would provide me with a great platform for national team selections,' Harris added. 'The big unknown for me was whether I’d actually be able to compete at the level I’d find myself riding in.'

The news of Harris's selection comes halfway through the 2019 Zwift Academy programme, and she has some words of advice for those seeking to follow in her footsteps and win a 2020 pro contract.

‘Even if you have doubts or reservations, just sign up and aim to complete the first session. Hopefully the taster will be enough, and you’ll then feel motivated to try some more! There’s nothing to lose from making a start and so much to gain from completing the Zwift Academy.

‘If you’re in the middle of working through the workouts and are aiming for the pro contract, my advice would be to make sure you’re leaving nothing to chance and that you’re giving yourself as much opportunity to complete the workouts to the best of your ability.'