AusCycling is looking to find the next generation of talent on Zwift

Following on from the success of the Zwift Academy, AusCycling turns to virtual talent scouting to open up access to more riders

Clock16:46, Wednesday 20th December 2023
AusCycling is taking a step into the virtual world to find the next generation of riders

© Velo Collection (TDW) / Getty Images

AusCycling is taking a step into the virtual world to find the next generation of riders

AusCycling has unveiled its new virtual talent ID program aimed at finding future champions in a way that allows far higher participation than traditional scouting methods.

The aim is to leverage online training technologies such as Zwift to scout talent with the initiative simplifying the process for aspiring athletes who are looking to enter the world of professional cycling. The new scheme aims to do this with a straightforward workout that could be completed from the comfort of their homes, on Zwift.

This highly accessible model provides potential future athletes with multiple avenues to participate. Not only does the scheme allow riders to take part from the convenience of their home, but individuals can also showcase their skills at in-person events organised by AusCycling. Additionally, there is scope for AusCycling to host testing days in towns and cities where enough interest has been expressed.

AusCycling Director of Pathways Donna Rae-Szalinski said: “We know that a strong talent pool is the key to success on the international stage, and as we look toward the 2028 and 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games, we want to develop the next generation of elite cyclists and riders with the potential to go all the way.

“This new talent ID program aims to identify and increase talent depth across all disciplines by expanding our search to those who may have never before ridden a bike competitively.”

This form of virtual talent scouting is nothing new with Zwift themselves offering a similar programme annually through the Zwift Academy. This allows riders from across the globe to showcase their ability across a series of workouts and virtual races. The ultimate prize on offer is a pro cycling contract with a WorldTour development team.

The Virtual Talent ID program by AusCycling aims to expand Australia's talent pool by identifying individuals who show talent in road cycling along with mountain biking, BMX racing, and BMX freestyle. This drive from AusCycling is aimed particularly at finding riders that are aged between 16 to 22 years with no background in high-performance sport. They are also looking for potential para-cyclists of all ages (individuals with physical or vision impairments), and individuals of all ages with prior experience in high-performance sport.

The type of test depends on how a rider goes about testing themselves. There are three flexible testing options on offer, including a 30-minute test on Zwift using their equipment. Alongside this, there is a shorter seven-minute test that can be held at an event hub during an AusCycling event. Finally, testing can be held at an AusCycling pop-up event in towns or cities where there has been enough expressed interest.

Successfully reaching predefined benchmarks will allow riders to continue to the next stage of testing. Riders who complete the testing to the required standard will be eligible for development opportunities with AusCycling. The program hopes to nurture the progression of cycling talent from all backgrounds across Australia.

Virtual cycling has seen a massive growth in uptake in the past few years with platforms such as Zwift and Rouvy making indoor training engaging and realistic. If you are looking to get started with virtual indoor training, we have you covered over on our indoor training hub.

Do you think virtual talent scouting is a good move from AusCycling or do you think talent scouting should remain at grass roots races? Let you thoughts be heard in the comments section down below.

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