• Mark Cavendish with the Zwift Cycling Academy finalists in Cape Town, South Africa. (Zwift)Source: Zwift
SBS Cycling podcast sponsor Zwift has announced Martin Lavrič as the winner of the second annual Men’s Zwift Academy Program.
Cycling Central

21 Nov 2018 - 10:54 AM  UPDATED 21 Nov 2018 - 11:03 AM

The 19-year-old Slovenian will join the under 23 Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka for 2019 after a talent ID selection process which received some 30,000 global submissions.

He then emerged as a prospect from just three remaining finalists who travelled to Team Dimension Data’s end of season camp in Cape Town, South Africa.

“This is a dream come true,” Lavrič said. “I entered Zwift Academy with an eye on a semi-final place, as I wanted to win an Elite smart trainer, but I walked away with a pro contract.

"I have experience racing at a UCI continental level, but this was a huge opportunity for me to get noticed by a top professional cycling team. It will be a huge change, but I’m really relishing the opportunity.”

Lavric fended off Alex West (New Zealand) and Ollie Peckover (Great Britain) to secure the one-year contract for 2019.

“Quite of few of us here at Dimension Data are big fans of Zwift, so the Academy is is something great to be a part of. Level 25 Zwifter Edvald Boasson Hagen said.

“A few of the senior riders live in Tuscany, where the under 23 team are based and I’m sure they’ll keep a watchful eye on Martin.”

All riders were under heavy scrutiny, having to complete a strict series of workouts and races both in the main draw and throughout the semifinals.

Completing the workouts gave Zwift’s panel of expert coaches the opportunity to look at each rider’s power profiles and ascertain where their strengths and weaknesses lay. All three finalists impressed the Zwift Academy Coaching panel with their raw ability.

“We’ve seen some really strong riders come through the Academy again this year,” said Elliot Lipski, Coach to Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka.

“In fact, I think the pool of talent goes even deeper this year. It’s not just a numbers game, it’s also important to see how the riders react to different scenarios out on the road, how they communicate and how they fit in with the team.

"These are all incredibly important skills when fitting into a team that spends a lot of time on the road and needs to function as a unit. Having spent some time with the riders here in Cape Town, We’re really confident in Martin.

"He showed real instinct out on the road, and the other riders took to him well. He’s got a great program with us at Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka and a direct route into the World Tour if he proves himself. Now is just the beginning.”

The 2018 Zwift Academy, along with the Ride for Qhubeka challenge which took place during the week of the training camp, saw 850 bikes donated to Qhubeka, which will be distributed throughout South Africa in order to bring people in rural communities closer to healthcare, jobs, and education.

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