The winner of our 2019 CANYON//SRAM Zwift Academy, earning a one-year contract with our Women’s WorldTour team, is Jessica Pratt. The 22-year-old Australian emerged triumphant from the closest Zwift Academy finals competition in its four-year history.
“With having almost 9000 women registered for the 2019 CANYON//SRAM Zwift Academy, I am very happy to see that we can reach women outside the existing community and encourage them to make that step and try their chance to become part of a professional team, now a Women’s WorldTour team. The overall awareness of the unique pathway that the Zwift Academy provides, will certainly create further depth to the sport,” said Ronny Lauke, Team Manager, CANYON//SRAM Racing.
Pratt is still trying to grasp what she has achieved. “I didn’t have any words after the announcement, and I still think it hasn’t sunk in. I called my Mum and she just burst into tears of happiness for me! This has been a surreal experience; from 9000 women down to three, my odds were getting better and better, but I was becoming more and more nervous! Then during the finals in Spain, there’s so many different challenges and you constantly feel under pressure,” explained Pratt.
“There was so much on the line; it’s hard to comprehend that now my dream to be a professional cyclist is reality and in just over three weeks I’m going to be racing alongside Tiffany Cromwell at the Australian national championships as her teammate,” said Pratt who will race the first time in the team’s colours on 10th January, 2020 in the Australian national criterium championships.
“With CANYON//SRAM Racing next season, I hope that I can develop as a rider, be a better athlete overall, contribute to the team, learn as much as possible, enjoy all of the new experiences; the list of things to look forward to and aim for, keeps going on! I’ve been given such an amazing opportunity with the Zwift Academy. This type of pathway into a pro cycling career isn’t existing anywhere else. I’m so excited and it’s an incredible feeling!” said Pratt.
“The vision for Zwift Academy was to revolutionise professional cycling by introducing an entirely new means of identifying talent,” Eric Min, Zwift CEO and Co-Founder, told after the winner announcement.
“2020 will see three former winners take to the World Tour with CANYON//SRAM Racing, proving the program has been a resounding success. I wish Jessica the very best in her first year as a professional – she is certainly in the right place to receive the best support and guidance,” added Min.
“The Zwift Academy is raising the quality and standards with every edition so far and the progress of the program is outstanding,” said Lauke with Pratt now joining former CANYON//SRAM Zwift Academy winners Tanja Erath and Ella Harris in the team in 2020.