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Jessica Pratt becomes the latest rider to win pro contract through Zwift

Joe Robinson
12 Dec 2019

Southern Hemisphere further dominates Zwift Academy with latest winner

Jessica Pratt has become the fourth woman to earn a professional cycling contract through the Zwift Academy Programme. The Australian will join former winners Ella Harris and Tanja Erath riding for the Canyon-Sram Women's WorldTour team in 2020 after seeing off 9,000 other competitors to the prize.

Pratt beat fellow Southern Hemisphere riders Catherine Colyn of South Africa and Samara Shepard of New Zealand to the prize after impressing at the final training camp in Malaga, Spain. This came after navigating her way through the eight workouts and four online group rides to graduate from the programme.

With all three finalists hailing from the Southern Hemisphere and the second winner in as many years coming from Australasia, a theme of talented riders hailing from outside of Europe has formed.

Recent winner Pratt puts this down to the Zwift app helping to find talented riders away from the usual hubs of professional racing in Europe.

'For us in the Southern Hemisphere, the Zwift Academy arguably presents an even bigger opportunity than for those in Europe, North America and Asia,' said Pratt.

'For me personally, I was incredibly hungry for it. It can be a very difficult route to the professional peloton when compared to the opportunities available to riders living in cycling’s homeland - Europe.

'The cost of travel alone can make things very difficult when living in Australia. To have come through and win is life-changing for me - I’m so, so happy!'

Discovering new talent from untapped corners of the world is also beneficial to Canyon-Sram, the new team of the eventual winners, with team manager Ronny Lauke heralding the talents of previous winners Harris and Erath.

'I’d say we got lucky with finding Ella and Tanja, but that really isn’t true,' said Lauke.

'Finding incredible talent - which these riders have in spades - is exactly what the Zwift Academy does. I know we have another great talent this year in Jessica, and look forward to watching her contribute to the team in her first World Tour season.'

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