The results of the Canyon/Sram Zwift Academy have just been published. Tanja Erath, who made it to the last 3 out of 2161 competitors, succeeded in her mission, she won the 2017 Canyon/Sram Zwift Academy and was offered a pro contract with UCI team Canyon/Sram! We congratulate Tanja and hope to see her in the fixed gear crit peloton too next year. Our reporter Date Burgerjon will interview her soon so stay tuned!
Photo: Tino Pohlmann Fotografie
Tanja Erath (From the Canyon/Sram team’s press release)
“My triathlon teammate told me about the 2016 CANYON//SRAM Zwift Academy last year but at that point it was too late to enrol and I didn’t have an indoor trainer. Instead I followed the progress of Leah Thorvilson (2016 inaugural winner of the Zwift Academy) in her first pro-year, borrowed a friend’s trainer and enrolled in this year’s academy,” said the 28 year old.
Erath, who recently finished her Medical degree said “I started with the dream of becoming a pro and saw the Zwift Academy as a “last chance” to make the dream come true before starting to work full time as a doctor. I didn’t really expect I could make it to the finals but told myself “if I could at least make it to the semi-finals I have my own Wahoo indoor trainer and one of those gorgeous Rapha team kits that the semi-finalists win!”
Erath admitted joining the CANYON//SRAM team, with the calibre of riders such as Pauline Ferrand-Prévot and Trixi Worrack, to compete in the Zwift Academy finals had been daunting.
“The first day I was just overwhelmed and a little bit scared by all the new impressions. I tried to enjoy myself but felt the pressure I put myself under. Every step closer to the finals my dream to be a pro cyclist became more concrete and made me realise how bad I really wanted this,” confessed Erath.
“In the first evening I had a great conversation with Christa (Riffel) and she made me feel so comfortable right from the start. Over the next days I started to feel more and more relaxed, especially when we finished our first mountain bike (MTB) ride. Since I have no real MTB experience I didn´t know what to expect. But it turned out to be really cool and fun to train with the team like that.”
Barry Austin, Sports Director and Performance Analyst at CANYON//SRAM Racing was part of the selection process, along with representatives from Zwift and TrainSharp, to narrow the field to the finalists. “The three finalists were all very determined in their own way and they all had an engine. This determination coupled with a good amount of talent brought them to the end point of the competition,” said Austin.
“Ultimately the team liked how Tanja used that determination and engine. She was naturally at ease and on top she impressed the team with her online Zwift race and the leadout simulation exercises on the road,” added Austin.
Erath agreed she started to feel at ease with the team. “On the third day everything started to feel more natural. From that point on I guess I lost my fear and a lot of my self-pressure and just wanted to get to know better the girls that I admire as the great athletes they are. On the last day with the tactical lead out challenges, I was paired with Hannah (Barnes) and Tiffany (Cromwell) and I found them both so supportive. That felt great and already like being a part of the team!”
Erath now realises her dream of a pro contract and, like Thorvilson did in 2017, earns the opportunity to race with team for the 2018 season. Austin said “Tanja will now have a winter training block before joining the team’s next training camp in February. We will monitor her via Training Peaks like we do all of our riders and the team will form a relationship between Tanja and her coach to set some early goals. At the next camp we can assess how much she has improved before finalising her race program that is likely to start at national level races and leading to UCI international races from April onwards.”
Austin added “Tanja has demonstrated she has other qualities beyond a big engine that makes for a successful sportsperson. It’s the right mix to be a top level cyclist and we’re excited to see her year unfold.”
Erath said her goals are to prove she deserved the pro contract, ride well for the team and be a good representative for the Zwift Academy. “I think I can play a good domestique role for the team. I’m looking forward to a year full of racing, travelling, new experiences, challenges, training, meeting new people an everything else that it might bring.”