• Jessica Pratt, left, in action for Canyon-SRAM team (SRAM Road Twitter)Source: SRAM Road Twitter
Jessica Pratt vaulted her way into the Women’s WorldTour through the Zwift Academy and is now looking to make the most of the experience.
By
Jamie Finch-Penninger

4 Feb 2020 - 9:59 AM 

With nearly a full summer of Australian racing banked in her legs, and months since her announcement as the winner of the spot within the Canyon-SRAM team, the 22-year-old is still buzzing with excitement.  

“It’s been pretty crazy,” Pratt said.

“I’m still pinching myself, I can’t believe what’s happening. The whole Zwift academy process was amazing and I’m really grateful that Zwift and Canyon-SRAM created this pathway.

“It’s been a really cool month, racing and training with the girls, I’ve learnt so much and I’m excited for the year ahead.”

However, it wasn’t a planned move - with detailed preparation leading in for Pratt seeing the 22-year-old signing up on impulse late in the year.

“It was a spur-of-the-moment thing,” she said.

“I’d heard about it before and signed up for it. I was getting back from a European holiday and wanted to get fit, and with nursing being shift work it seemed like a good idea and focus.

“Originally, I was stoked to make the semi-finals, but things progressed from there, I went to the finals and I really wanted to win pretty bad.”

Pratt has been intent on showing she belongs early, with a ninth finish overall at the Tour Down Under, slipping seamlessly into fighting against top competition at the top level.

 

The youngster has raced these events before - as a member of domestic squads and national teams while splitting her time racing with her job as a nurse - but now she steps up another level as a full-time professional cyclist.

“There’s been a few differences in the way you go to a race and how the team’s run,” said Pratt of her start with Canyon-SRAM.

“It’s awesome to start the year in Australia, it’s a bit more familiar and relaxing, but I’m looking forward to getting over to Europe and racing there.”

“It’s been my dream to turn professional for a while, but to race with these girls on Canyon-SRAM Racing is extraordinary - they teach me so much each race. These girls are so good to me, super helpful and teaching me lots.”

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Pratt has some experience in Europe, racing as part of the women’s national development road team back in 2017, where she took a stage win in the Tour de l’Ardeche while also assisting teammate Lucy Kennedy to win the overall.

The 22-year-old is fairly experienced, and won’t have any issues turning her watts into good performances in the WorldTour as she is a good bike handler and doesn’t mind fighting for her position in the peloton.

Nonetheless, Pratt has felt the learning process accelerate with fellow Australian Tiffany Cromwell singled out as one of the key instructors.

“It’s been cool to have Tiff Cromwell in the squad,” Pratt said.

“I first raced with her at nationals, she’s extremely knowledgeable and always in the right position. It’s awesome to race with someone who’s got that experience.”

The Queenslander has been a regular in the National Road Series over the past few years, moving through some of the biggest development squads on the local scene and building a reputation for herself as a diminuitive rider, who punches above her weight on the flat.

The biggest win of her domestic career came at the Tour of King Valley, where she took the overall after the infamous graveled roads and climbs of the race.

Time will tell as to where she’ll find her niche as Pratt continues her career racing all over the world.