The 2019 NTT Pro Cycling || Zwift Academy Winner is…
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The 2019 NTT Pro Cycling || Zwift Academy Winner is…

Nearly 60,000 male Zwifters from
all over the world started out on this year’s Zwift Academy, but now only three
young men remain. And they’ve come here to Valencia in Spain
to the team NTT training camp to battle it out for a contract with the under-23
NTT Continental team of 2020. Mathijs’ birthday’s today. Ahhhh come on boy! My name is Campbell Pithie, I’m 20 years
old and I’m from Christchurch New Zealand. Six months ago I wouldn’t have thought I’d be here so I’ve been kind of grateful for every opportunity I’ve
gotten, taken it with both hands and just enjoying the process really. My name is Drew Christensen I’m 18 years old I come from Hamilton New Zealand. So
essentially my bike got lost or left behind in Paris. It’s now here as well as my suitcase. Relieved. My name is Mathijs Loman, I’m
20 years old and I’m from the Netherlands. My parents will be very
proud I think, they always want us to achieve as much as we can so but then in a good way they’re very proud at the
moment I think already. So Kev, day one of the men’s camp and the
guys are pretty much straight in the deep end with the brutal ramp tests on
aren’t they. Tough start? Well, what a better
way start for us to see the guys put to their limit. Let’s see what they’ve
got this is our first chance to see them perform physically for us we’ve met them
yesterday and got to know their personalities and so on but now we get to put them put them to the sword I guess in some respects and see what they can produce. You were key in the selection process. You’ve seen these
guys metrics and the numbers. What kind of figures are we looking at? Really these guys we’re looking at like seven seven and a half watts per kilo for the
final minute. So relatively big numbers. Thought I could go a bit higher, but think
I’ll have to see how the other guys do. Just make sure you leave everything on the line. Yeah, that was a good test and that’s the kind of data we would expect to see at this level ended up ended up being 5.1 watts per kilo threshold power, which is very impressive. Well that was the final test, that was Drew’s
test. I don’t think we can you know criticize the effort, he rode to
exhaustion. But the numbers, let’s be honest not quite what we’d expect at this level. Here’s the data I just had a look at it, not what we expected, we were hopeful. But take things into account like the travel, the
anxiety. It’s a hard hard test but if we looked at raw data, we would’ve been
looking for more from that one. Okay, interesting stuff. Session number two of day one. They’ve given it their all in the ramp tests and now they’ve got a big day tomorrow so we said kind of go
easy a little bit, but already it was interesting see Mathijs half
wheeling Drew in the crosswinds and Drew had to drop back. So there’s already
a little bit of competition between these guys and a bit of a hierarchy
forming really early on and we’ve not even finished day one, it’s
absolutely fascinating to see unfold, I tell you – love it. Today’s the first
ride with the Zwift Academy finalists this is more of a climbing group and
we have some efforts on the hills today. You know, the first thing we’ll be
looking for obviously it’s just social skills because it’s such an important
thing in a team sport like this. See how they do in the group and then when we get to the climb, obviously strength is one thing but
following instructions and training you know it’s not a 100 percent effort so
just watching their technique a little bit handling skills going downhill and that
sort of thing, so yeah should get some good information today. Yeah this is not about racing each other
it’s about basically sitting in the zones seeing how they feel, seeing how they handle riding in that zone and obviously seeing what the outcome is at the end once they’ve done their five different efforts up the climb. That was pretty good, first time doing those sorts of efforts. I quite enjoyed them along with a
complimentary nice view. A good set of efforts. Just talking to them and learning
from their experiences you know, you just learn very quickly and just awesome, you listen the whole time.
It’s amazing. So Campbell, your turn now. All the very best. Thank you. Meet the panel, here we go mate. Why do you think you deserve a spot on the continental team? I’m a team player, I happily ride for my teammates and will sacrifice my race, my tour to see my teammates
succeed. I know a few guys on the team already, I’ve known guys who have been on
the team, so I feel like I could do it. Your roommate snores. How do you handle
that situation? I probably out-snore him, to be honest, so. Do you put pineapple into the pizza? I won’t say no to it. It’s not too bad. He puts pineapple on pizza, I don’t trust him. Mathijs, your turn to face the panel is upon us. All the best mate. Be yourself and enjoy yourself. Would you rather eat chocolate that tastes like poo or poo that tastes like chocolate? Well then I go for the chocolate for sure. What if your roommate
snores, what do you do? Nothing he actually did last night. It was quite calming. I just let him sleep. It you were to take the spot of someone in team NTT, who would it be? Probably one of the older guys because they already had like a a good
career. Like Gaspa? Yeah he had a nice career. So you’re doing him a favour? I don’t know if he thinks about it that way, but if someone has to go… Do you like pizza with pineapple? No. For me you are the winner. What do you do if someone snores? In the Giro with Ben O’Connor I went into the bath and lay in there, saved my life. Drew, time to face the WorldTour panel, all the best mate. It’s a nervous seat, isn’t it. Let’s say here in the situation like when you’re in the breakaway and
there’s just you and two other guys and you’re heading into the final three
kilometers and you know you’ve got a good chance where even if you do badly
you’re going to get third. On the race radio the team manager says you need to drop back
because your team leader, your GC leader, is coming across to get some
time against his rivals. What you do you? Do you drop back and help them or do you get the potential win or second? I would definitely drop back, I think that’s the point of the team working together as one sort of thing – I don’t know
bring bring the yellow jersey up if this is the scenario. Working together I’d say is more rewarding than being individual and you know trying to take
the reins on yourself because anything can happen and blow up right in
your face sort of thing. You seem like a team player what do you do your roommate snores? I actually had this before and I’d get the pillow and you wrapped it
around the other side of your face or you put your headphones on or something
burns on or something. What if it doesn’t work? What if you just simply can’t fall
asleep? Oh I’d have to get up and give him a good little poke or something you know I
guess. How much gel do you go through in a month? Maybe about, I don’t know, maybe quarter/half. If I had my hair down it looks like a you know cowlick or something. I just prefer it up. I like that he turned his weakness into a strength. He handled the whole teammate question quite well. Don’t believe that the minutes and they were
like truly don’t believe the other guys wouldn’t up the road I think you could
actually personally he was honest about that. But at first when he said he’d put a pillow I thought you put it around that guys head and just leave it there. I tried that trick as well. [laughs] I tried it with you, but you’re still here. I liked him, I think he was really cool.Very skinny. I’ve never been as skinny as he is! They’ve already proved that they’re like the
best trainers in the world so the question becomes like how does that
translate into racing for sure and that’s because you I mean plenty of guys
cannot perform necessary muscle-power test. Yeah give it to management whatever else
but that’s how do you… That’s not bike racing every day, that I’ve been
to racing. It’s different to have the skills to ride on the road. But like you said I get this feeling that they’ve got good work ethic. They’ve shown they have the engine so interesting. Here’s the next important test. Are your glasses clean? Are they clean?
There’s a fingerprint right there, luckily it’s just out of your air. Well, beginning of day three this is gonna be the first real tough test the last
couple of days has just been bedding in really there’s not a lot to tell between
the riders. There’s a few little signs but today that got a four and a half hour
endurance ride and they don’t know yet that there’s gonna be a hill climb within
that, they’re gonna be led out by Ben King. I think they know there’s something
in store but they’re not too sure and then they’ll get back they’ll have only
about two and a half hour turnaround and it’s the Zwift race and I think today
we’re really gonna see some gaps between these riders so this is the biggest day
so far. Very very important. Right, we’re going to start a race. Ben’s
gonna lead you guys out into the climb. The climb pretty much starts from here okay so he might do it a k on the front pick it up pick it up pick it
up and then when you guys are ready we go. I mean the guys have already
shown if they have a big engine so this is about it’s about racing, there’s some
tactics involved. To win on a climb you have to be strong so just see how they
play it and see who comes out on top. Mathijs’s early attack managed to
stick for the full climb despite the combined efforts of Campbell and Drew. That being said there was still only seconds between them when they reached the summit. There’s still nothing between them. I tried man, he took straight off. I was on Ben’s wheel and he just kept ramping it up and I started suffering like a dog a bit just from him and then Mathijs took that opportunity. How was that? Pretty hard. But I finished first, so can’t be unhappy with it. Oh yeah it was good clearing up the legs, it’s really hard ride. Just holding Ben King’s wheel, the guys was… bloody tough, you know. Ripping up the climb, trying to keep the speed up with that sort of gradient where, you know, you need special legs for false flats. Just tried to respond to it straight away, we rode hard with Drew. But… Yeah, no, he rode well and I couldn’t pull him back in the end, but… There’s more opportunities. Yeah, so, Drew’s got potential. In a nutshell, Drew’s really young, he’s currently… well, this year he was a Junior. I think he’s got a racing instinct that you cannot teach so much. And he’s shown that already at Junior level. He’s got that “go for it nature” about him when he comes to the race. He’s not the strongest by any means. In fact, if we were picking purely on power, Drew wouldn’t even have got through to the finals. Maybe even the semifinals, but from his attitude, his experience He’s got that something that makes him a potential. I think Mathijs has shown in the last few days how much he wants it. Not that the other guys haven’t. But the way he’s conducted himself in the camp has been very professional. He’s a real smart kid, and I think he’s probably the strongest in the challenges we’ve set this week. So I think if you were to pick purely on the challenges, he would be the winner. Do we think he has the potential to turn WorldTour? And that’s a hard decision to make. Campbell’s the best all around, in the sense that he has a good kick, he can climb well, he’s really outgoing, kind of that perfect blend of being reserved and not being a bit of a prima donna, but also being outgoing and and personable with every person that he meets. Yeah, on paper he’s the strongest, throughout the qualification rounds, throughout the semifinals, and to some extent throughout the last few days. He’s proven to be probably the strongest across the board. But again, it doesn’t really mean he’s gonna win it. Because we have to ask that question of “who do we think is the best for development team, and also who do we think is gonna be the best for the WorldTour?” Coming at the end of Day 3, this without the shadow of a doubt has been the heaviest day in terms of intensity in terms of workload… It’s all about your time. They’ve now got a Zwift race which starts in about 5 minutes. They were over there running at about, I don’t know, 8w/kg. You never know, some guys go out too hard and they blow. These guys, they know what they’re doing but… You need to settle into a group. If you don’t stay with the group, you’re out of the race. You can’t come back to it, so that’s a bit like a road race. [Cheering] Unreal, man! Honestly I more tense and more stressed in that race than watching that, than in any race I’ve ever done. That was unreal. It was quite exciting to see all the guys here and I think they did pretty well. They were pretty evenly matched coming into the final sprint. That’s a tough course. Mathijs at one point got dropped, got back on again. He was in a good position coming into the finale, unshipped his chain… That’s just bike racing, is it? What can you tell us now, though? Where are things as we head into the final day? This is the thing, it’s been such a close competition the whole time and this race today showed that there’s actually not much in it and… there’s no clear favorite. There hasn’t been a clear favorite all week and nobody’s put their hand up to move above the pack anyway so it’s making our decision really difficult. Is there one rider, if we had to call it today, is there one rider that is in front? That’s what I wanna know. Sure answer: no.
Right, okay. It’s a small bunch finishing a race, you guys are now basically what’s left of the small group. And Edvald’s riding for the GC position, that’s why he’s riding flat out for the finish and you guys are now basically sprinting for the stage. Mathijs is gonna try and pull a fast run in, we’ve got this run and one other run. I think Drew is gonna be the one who struggles the most but maybe he’s the cleverest. My first sprint win [laughs]. I think they are ready to build up and it’s nice to be able to train with them and I look forward to see their progression, I know it’s only one spot on the team but I think all three of them are… have a bright future. Thanks so much, on your rest day as well! Hardly a rest day mate! The hardest rest day. We’re going for coffee now, aren’t we? Yeah I’ll pick a 7. My favorite of the irons, rather than a 9. And a 2, I quite like. There’s not much that we can do now, just wait for the decision. A bit nervous, I guess. I think all three of us are. Now if you get this far, you’re playing pretty big. It’s just like, we’re a bit nervous and stuff so we’re heading out a bit. I would say there’s probably two riders that are starting to establish themselves at the top of the picking order. I would say Mathijs and Campbell at this stage. But in saying that, we know that looking at Drew’s background, he’s a very good racer. And he has that opportunity to actually show his ability to race under that really high intensity pressure. We look at racing just to see how do they compete Are they competing in races or participating in races? Many riders can start and finish a race, but if you find that they’re in the mix, and getting reasonable results maybe top 10s or top 20s then you know they’re in the business into racing. That we look at because we want to see guys who know how to race and are keen to race as opposite to just ride to finish a race. This camp’s been amazing. It’s been made really easy by all the NTT staff, riders, and the GoZwift crew has been awesome, so… It’s been, I wouldn’t say stress-free, but of course it is stressful, but it’s been made really easy for us and it’s been awesome. We just left the hotel, the decision making process is still going on. We’ve only got 40 minutes before the announcement. We’ve come to play golf on a driving range. And to be fair, considering how high the stakes are, all of our three finalists are really getting in, quite literally, into the swing of things, which is good to see. It’s been a really really tough decision for us to make. We’ve actually all discussed that at length. and it’s gone from one rider to the next and back to the other and then including the third. Really, it hasn’t been easy at all, so
we’re gonna start off by making the announcement of the third-place finisher.
Like I said it’s going to be… That in itself was a really really tough decision,
because there wasn’t much to separate you guys. You’ve all really put your hands
up in a big way, you’ve all really… You’ve stepped up in a big time, not only
since the competition started, but also since you guys have got here. The
third-place finisher in the 2019 Zwift Academy was… not decided who the third
place finisher would be, because it was too close, so there is no third place finisher. So
basically… I can tell you that you all actually would be deserving
winners, and we’re not just saying that the fill up camera time, we actually
say it because it’s true. So, the winner of the 2019 Zwift Academy is… Drew. Congratulations, well done. Yes, so, Drew,
good job I’m not actually lying when I say you’re not head and shoulders above
these guys, you just shown us that little bit something extra, but it was really
really tough. And I’m pretty sure you’ll agree with me
it was tough and yeah so yeah good luck for the season ahead, and we really hope
to see the best of you in Lucca, and we hope to see you develop and contribute
to our team well. Well done. Thanks a lot for the opportunity everyone, it’s amazing how you
put this all together, meeting the riders, the staff… yeah just meeting
friends, gaining friends… Appreciate all three of us, yes… Pretty amazing. It’s surreal. Did you expect to win this? I think as they’re
saying it’s pretty tight, I wouldn’t have a clue what was… Going into it,
I don’t know what to say… Your life is going to
change, of course, now have you ever kind of thought about that?
Yeah, just talking… to I know some of the guys had
like a place down there, and they ride, to be a part of the continental team
it’s phenomenal. Mom and Dad, you both there? We’re both there, yeah. Guess what? I got… I got the contract Mom… No way?! Yeah… That’s so awesome Drew! You must be so super stoked! I don’t know it’s… Dad was confident. We’re so proud honey. Life changing! Well that was pretty emotional, to say they’re very very least. I was really choked up myself but it
just shows how much winning the Zwift Academy means to anybody who does it and Drew is no exception. And the moment when he was telling his parents, well, that’s
absolutely priceless. And of course Campbell and Mathijs as
well, two exceptionally wonderful young men, who definitely will have bright
futures ahead of them. I just can’t wait for the next Zwift Academy next year! I’ll go for a lie-down.

About James Carlton

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44 thoughts on “The 2019 NTT Pro Cycling || Zwift Academy Winner is…

  1. Talk about a tough decision!! I had no idea who was going to get until they announced it. I would really like to see more footage of Drew in the bunch to see how he interacts. I believe that aspect is what earned him the spot.

  2. Been a little in the doldrums in offseason training every day. This gave me back some juice. I really enjoyed, thank you.

  3. I am very confident that the other 2 kids will get in the pro peloton to at some point. All 3 demonstrated a very high level of professionalism.

  4. We Love Zwift!
    But this video was poorly produced: Drew's talent's or advantages were visually hidden throughout the video making the "surprise" at the end particularly silly for a company that highlights the key value of data and data observation in cycling. Drew loses the ramp test and he loses the hill climb, but he wins the competition? – that means we're surprised but we're confused because of the editing style. During the 3 way Zwift race, the video editor never cuts to screen capture scenes from the actual game (didn't do that during the ramp test either), so again, we're not really sharing in the hybrid experience as both real cyclists and game players. Also at 6:26 the audio is almost unintelligible because the shotgun mic either failed or was poorly placed for the 3 way conversation, the gain is cranked up to compensate but it's sounding like amateur hour over there. Also the hallway scenes at 7:18 with Matt are incredibly underexposed AND shot with the wrong white balance. And where are all the GoPro mounted shots? Each rider should have GoPros mounted strategically on the bikes (add the same amount of small weight to each bike, so it's an equal weight burden) for immersive shots when they're competing, because these tracking shots from the car often lack context. How there was no reverse mount GoPro on Ben King's saddle during the hill climb filming will go down in history as one of the great unanswered questions. Also Ben King is out of focus at 17:03 during this whole scene, because this filmmaking team is just too run and gun. The scenes of athletic performance are cut too tight, scene to scene, and the narrative parts are cut too long. I'm not saying that information should be removed – only that narrative parts should overlap athletic performances and less time showing chill scenes. A great example of this is the sprint competition in the video which last for less than 2 minutes, and the actual sprint scenes are less than 30 seconds! Why? Let the sprint competition clips linger longer and let the narrators talk over top of the footage to move the video along. The editor is obsessed with only showing athletic performance when the music is driving the audio, but that's an unnecessary distinction. By letting narration occur over top of athletic performance, we can justify watching more performance while moving the plot forward.
    Pro tip: get your filmmaking team a Class 3 ebike with a few strategically placed camera mounts and have them ride alongside the pro team instead of the filmmakers flopping around in the back seat of a car or out the truck, because there are some sloppy scenes, like at 13:16
    Still love Zwift

  5. Great content! I love Zwift. One small complaint. Next video can you turn down the background music as it’s overpowering the voices. Thank you

  6. Few good moments in this video! What happened to the Zwift finals live stream this? I was up there for 3/4 of the race 😉

  7. Again so close! Being a local rider where I'm from Campbell is a great kid, well liked and an exciting prospect. As is Mathijs. I'm sure they'll go far. But well done Drew on winning the contract!

  8. Proves you don't have to be the best tester to get a contract. Just like Rod and Cav, the guys saw something in Drew past the numbers. Chapeau to you all though.

  9. Have been loving these Zwift Academy videos with Matt. Any chance we can revisit and see where some of the other finalists are/ have ended up from the last couple of seasons? Would be cool to see how they have continued to develop, or even moved on to other challenges. Might be good feedback for other competitors knowing that there is still a pathway to success and this is what some of the previous finalists have achieved.

  10. Thanks for this competition and presentation, Zwift, racing is about selecting and this is a selection, no question, one winner and two almosts. Congrats to all three finalists and thanks, Matt, for your skills at the microphone.

  11. What's the whole point of the Zwift Process, I thought it was to find someone with crazy power, and to put them in a situation with elite coaching and opportunities to see of they can grow into someone . But damn power wise of just doesn't make sense to pick drew.

  12. I really hope Zwift can keep this program going, and possibly doing this for Continental level teams as well as World Tour. I will be looking out for Drew in future races.

  13. Wow. Spinning away on the rollers waiting for the WC CX, saw this and thought this will kill 25 mins. What an experience for all 3 guys, big well done! Had to stop when the young kiwi guy rang his parents to tell them he had won, very emotional. Well done all 3, you're all winners.

  14. Seems clear that they had picked out Drew from the very start of the competition and had no interest in anyone else. The whole final and elimination rounds were only for show. Certainly had no bearing on the final decision because that had been made well beforehand. They all appear to be fine bike riders but the Zwift Academy thing is a joke when the winner is pre-selected.

  15. Does Zwift offer a "family" or dual membership at a reduced monthly cost? Would make it more affordable for those with wives/children/siblings that also like to ride and potentially increase sales.

  16. Top! I think it's really great that literally anyone can enter these Zwift competitions. What a great way for pro-teams to filter-out top talent and give anyone the chance to achieve their pro-cycling dreams. Matt's contribution throughout is, of course, superb. Congrats to all of the finalists, but the deciding moment for me, was during the pro-interview. The guys seemed happiest with young Drew joining their team. He's sure to continue developing physically, but he seemed to have that indescribable something extra, that set him apart. Thanks for uploading…. Merry Christmas and good luck for the 2020 season 😉

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