Over 160,000 took part in Zwift Academy Road 2022, and it’s now down to just 4 women vying for a pro contract with Canyon SRAM and 5 men vying for a contract with Alpecin-Deceuninck.
Zwift partnered with GCN to bring you a series of 5 episodes documenting the finals process – a new episode each day this week.
Watch Episode 2:
Episode Summary (Spoiler Alert!)
After yesterday’s Zwift-based indoor test, the riders head outside for two different challenges on day 2: paceline work on flatter roads, and a hill climb TT challenge.
Pacelining is one of the most exhilarating things you can do as a road cyclist, working with a group of riders to go faster together than you can apart. The Canyon SRAM coaches explain that they’re looking for good technical skills, comfort in a tight group, riding technique (pedal stroke, upper body control, etc), and 360-degree awareness in the group. They spot Nele Laing as a standout in terms of her abilities in the paceline, and note that Jasper’s cadence is a bit low, an issue they noticed in yesterday’s test as well.
Luca makes a good showing of strength when Mathieu van der Poel decides to take the pace up a notch, and Lucas overcooks a corner and has an unplanned dismount. But he pushes on, showing some of the toughness required of a pro rider.
After a coffee stop, it’s time for the time trial. This challenge is about pacing, position, and technique, in addition to raw power. The twisting, climbing course is around 10-13 minutes long, where it’s hard to see riders ahead. The course seems to suit Will best, with his light weight, but will Cooper’s grit/experience or Luca’s raw power be too much for him?
Luca, the last rider to start, puts in the best time, beating the next-best (Will) by 36 seconds on a comparatively short course. And he looks much too fresh for someone who just won a time trial. Chapeau! Final TT results for the men:
The women take on the TT next after an easy recon of the course. Chiara takes the win 30 seconds ahead of Nele, the next closest rider. Final TT results for the ladies:
After being named “rider of the day” yesterday, the two Italian riders took the top spots in the TT challenge!
“In life you don’t have to stop dreaming, and you don’t have to stop moving and changing. Every chance is a great opportunity to learn something new. So I don’t want to stop.”
At the end of the day, the judges meet to debrief and discuss the riders’ performance. Coaches for both teams agree that the riders’ IRL skills were strong today, with no big standouts in terms of weak bike handling or fitness.
While Luca won the TT, the judges mention that Cooper and Jasper managed 20-50 watts more in their ~10-minute outdoor TT effort than the indoor, putting in a 4.7-4.8 w/kg uphill effort.
Lucas crashed during the paceline section – is that a black mark against him? The judges say no: “It can happen to anyone”.
Riders of the Day
At the end of the day, the judges select their riders of the day: Nele and Lucas. Nele performed very well in terms of on-the-bike skills and comfort level in the bunch, while also finishing second in the hill climb. Lucas crashed, but picked himself up and carried on with the day. With crashing being a part of pro cycling, this impressed the judges.
Coming Up Tomorrow
On day 3, finalists will be out in the hills in the morning, with a second session later in the day indoors on Zwift, racing in Crit City. Two riders will be sent home at the end of the day- our first eliminations of finals. Watch this space for episode 3!
Questions or Comments?