Ella Harris, winner of the 2018 CANYON//SRAM Zwift Academy, has re-signed with CANYON//SRAM Racing for the 2020 season.
The 21 year old from New Zealand, quickly demonstrated her talent within her first year in the professional peloton: winning the youth classification at Vuelta Burgos, second in the youth classification at Emakumeen Bira WorldTour, and fourth in the GC at Colorado Classic. Harris is testament to the Zwift Academy, now in its fourth year, as a unique and innovative talent identification program.
“I’m really pleased and excited to be renewing with CANYON//SRAM for 2020. I really love the team and feel completely comfortable and happy in the environment; it’s without a doubt the best place for me to continue my development as a rider to become as good as I can be. The other riders, sponsors, staff and overall set up is incredible and beyond anything I could have ever imagined being a part of!” exclaimed Harris.
Ronny Lauke, Team Manager, commented on Harris’s contract extension. “Ella entered the UCI ranks in a fast growing environment and within her first year as part of a UCI team, she made it into the top 20% of the sport, currently ranked 171. As a young athlete she has much more to learn and we believe can develop further with time.”
“Ella showed extreme commitment to the sport and was determined throughout the season to get the given job in a race done or go for own results. Most impressive was her willpower and the level of suffering she has shown to assure she can be the best possible teammate as well as reaching her goals. The expectations on her for 2020 are to see further development in terms of efficiency and tactical understanding.”
Though Harris ranks in the top 20% of the women’s peloton, it hasn’t been an easy neo-pro year. The first time living away from home, let alone in a foreign country, and several crashes including two broken collarbones and subsequent surgeries, 2019 has seen Harris tick off a long list of firsts and overcame several challenges.
“When I first left New Zealand in January, there were so many unknowns and adjustments that I had to make. Moving out of home and going to live in Spain when it was only my second time to Europe (the first being the December finals camp) was the first major hurdle,” admitted Harris.
“I also had no idea whether I’d be able to ride comfortably in European races without feeling completely out of my depth. Integrating into a professional squad with so many accomplished and top cyclists and learning how such a team operates both on and off the bike was quite daunting initially. Even my training routine was turned on its head with a new coach and a very new territory for riding.”
“A big take home message for me from 2019 is that setbacks are just a small part of a bigger picture and although they may seem frustrating at the time, eventually the issue will be resolved and normality will resume once again. Being able to work through them helped to develop resilience and heightened my tenacity. Essentially, it’s important to just never give up and to focus on what you can control, as it’s how you manage the adversity that helps you grow as a person.”
After her first year as a professional cyclist, Harris now enjoys an off-season break at her home in New Zealand, before starting to build on her encouraging 2019 season.
“I feel really content, positive and particularly motivated going into next year, and just want to keep improving,” said Harris.
News of Harris’s contract extension comes just ahead of the announcement, expected on November 12, of the three finalists for the 2019 CANYON//SRAM Zwift Academy. The finalists will join the team at its first training camp in Spain in December, where the winner will earn a professional contract with the team for the 2020 season.
“After three editions, with the winners showing medal success at national championships, earning national team selection on world-class stages, and winning jerseys on a WorldTour level, it has been proven that the CANYON//SRAM Zwift Academy is a program that helps identify talented riders that can be immediately competitive on the highest level of the sport,” said Lauke.
“Being competitive and a contributor to the team’s success from the very first race, as well as being a trusted and loyal teammate, will be the main expectation and criteria for the three finalists,” continued Lauke.
Harris will also join the December camp, this time with the luxury of already having secured her position in the team. “I expect it to be an extremely competitive and tightly run contest at camp, and to be honest I’m very pleased to watch from the sidelines this time around! After looking at the ten semi-finalists, I believe there are a few that would all make excellent additions to the team, so this will make for an exciting battle and also a very tough final decision. I can’t wait to see how it plays out and I wish all the semi-finalists the best of luck for upcoming selection; the team camp is such an amazing experience to be a part of,” added Harris.
CANYON//SRAM Racing will announce its full roster for the 2020 season in the coming weeks.