The 2023 Zwift Academy Turns Two Amateurs Cyclists Into Pros

a group of people on bicycles
Zwift Academy Champs Secure Pro Contracts for 2024Courtesy of Zwift

For the eighth year running, two amateur bike racers can now call themselves pros after winning the 2023 Zwift Academy. South African Maddie Le Roux, 27, will join the CANYON/SRAM Generation development squad, and German Louis Kitzki, 20, will ride for Alpecin-Deceuninck’s development team.

Le Roux and Kitzki beat more than 108,000 other Zwift racers who participated in the Academy in 2023, whose big prize is a one-year contract with a professional team.

CANYON/SRAM Generation and Alpecin-Deceuninck invited six riders total—three women and three men—from the top of the Zwift Academy leader board to their camps in Dénia, Spain. The riders were subject to a series of challenges and races on the road and on Zwift. They also met with coaches and team staff and joined group rides with potential future teammates.

a woman in a garment
South Africa’s Maddie Le Roux will join CANYON//SRAM Generation.Courtesy of Zwift

For Le Roux, it was a combination of impressively high power numbers and a good background of racing experience that enamored Canyon/Sram bosses.

Team director Adam Szabó said of Le Roux, “Maddie excelled in many of the challenges, but where she stood out from all the finalists was supporting her designated leaders during the Zwift race. This moment was a turning point in the week, and we were sure this was what we were looking for in our team.”

Speaking for herself, Le Roux said, “I’m excited to finally be able to share the news; it still feels unbelievable, to be honest, but I’m sure it’ll sink in soon. It’s been a whirlwind since coming back from finals, but I am looking forward to joining the team in Europe and getting the season started.”

a man wearing a sports uniform
Germany’s Louis Kitzki will join the Alpecin-Deceuninck Development Team.Courtesy of Zwift

On the men’s side, Kitzki, the youngest of the Academy finalists, set himself apart from the competition with a display of raw talent and ambition.

Alpecin-Deceuninck’s performance manager Kristof de Kegel said, “This edition, the finalists were the closest ever to compare on a physical level. Louis has the combination of a young age with the belief and awareness that his ‘weak points’ are only working points, which gave him the advantage over the other finalists.”

“It is such a great way to really test if you can handle the professional cycling lifestyle,” said Kitzki.

Going into its ninth season, the Zwift Academy has become a popular platform for training that doubles as a worldwide talent identification program, breaking down the often extraordinarily high barriers on the road to becoming a pro cyclist. As Zwift racing requires little more than a trainer and an internet connection, anyone in the world can race anyone in the world.

For the 2023 edition, riders needed to complete six workouts and two races to maintain a position on the worldwide leaderboard.

Since launching in 2016, Zwift Academy winners have included names like UAE Team Emirates rider Jay Vine, who has a pair of Vuelta stage wins to his name, CANYON/SRAM’s Neve Bradbury, who finished third in last year’s Tour Down Under, and Ella Harris, who rides for team Lifeplus Wahoo.

Earlier this year, Eurosport began airing a four-episode series on the Zwift Academy finals. Those episodes are available worldwide via Eurosport’s YouTube channel.

You Might Also Like