New Zealander Ollie Jones has beaten more than 9,000 candidates to land a contract for 2018 with the Dimension Data Development Team.
Jones got through the final test to ride for Dimension Data for Qhubeka, the development squad that feeds into the team that boasts the likes of Steve Cummings, Edval Boasson Hagen and Mark Cavendish.
The competition culminated with a week of riding at Dimension Data’s team training camp in South Africa. Jones is the first male winner of the competition after American Leah Thorvilson won a contract with UCI women’s team Canyon SRAM Racing for 2017.
“To say this is a dream come true is the understatement of the year,” Jones said after selection. “It’s a life-changing experience and I still can’t believe it’s happening. Now I’m onto the next challenge of making the move to a new home in Lucca, Italy and doing everything I can to support my teammates in the season ahead.”
Zwift Academy athletes were evaluated through their performance online over two months. A panel of judges analysed their data in each round, subjecting semi-finalists and finalists to ever-increasing levels of scrutiny, prior to their real-life assessments in Cape Town.
Team Dimension Data team principal Doug Ryder explained the value of scouting out raw talent through Zwift Academy. “Finding the next young talent is never easy, but Zwift’s reach and data collection opens our team up to the whole world,” he said. “Of course, there’s no substitute for the tactics, bike handling, and skills a rider needs in real-world racing, but these finalists presented us with the raw materials we need to find the next generation of world class talent.”