We joined Leah Thorvilson, winner of the 2016 Zwift Academy, now pro cyclist for the Women’s World Tour team at the Rapha Club House in Soho, London, to celebrate the launch of the 2017 program and ask her for a few tips and hints as to what it might take to become next years’ winner.
A competitive marathon runner from 2004-2012, Thorvilson was introduced to cycling following a series of injuries that resulted in 4 surgeries in 3 years. Following her most recent surgery and a bone graft on her femur, the doctors assured her that running was out of the question for at least a year. Not one to sit still, Thorvilson “took up cycling just to not go crazy”.
Initially unable to cycle outside as a result of the recent surgery, Thorvilson took to the turbo and was immediately hooked; ‘It wasn’t just pounding away the miles, you really had that interactive experience and got to meet other people’. Soon after, Thorvilson read an article about Zwift’s attempts to find a pro cyclist and thought it sounded cool. Never once considering she might win, she signed up on a whim and now looking back, she describes the experience as ‘pretty crazy’ to have made it through.
When asked what it was that made Thorvilson stand out from all those who entered the competition in 2016, Canyon//SRAM’s Team Manager, Ronny Lauke didn’t hesitate “Her personality”. Thorvilson used the academy as an opportunity to create a new life for herself, “she is a nice person and showed how dedicated she is when she was at the training camp”.