Q&A: The Zwift Academy 2017

A key partner in the The Zwift Academy 2017 is trainSharp – we asked them about this great competition for men and women

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Q&A: The Zwift Academy 2017

Q: One of the biggest prizes any rider could want to win, something that could well change the lives of the winners, is on offer with the academy but what will you need to enter?

trainSharp: There are four basic things you need to get riding with Zwift:
• A bicycle trainer or rollers, and an ANT+ or BLE power meter/speed and cadence sensor
• A bike
• A PC/Mac computer or compatible iOS device
• A bridge/receiver for the ANT+/BLE signal

Riders just need to decide whether they’re going to be using a smart trainer, a combination of a power meter/speed sensor and rollers/a classic trainer, or an indoor bike.

Q: What is trainSharp’s involvement with the competition?
trainSharp: The elite coaches and physiologists at trainSharp have designed the training sessions, test protocols, group rides and races. The sessions are designed to provide a good training stimulus to all levels of riders and, perhaps more importantly, provide our physiologists with key performance data on the individual riders so we can identify potential cycling talent.

Q: What is the end game for those wanting to be involved?
trainSharp: Each rider will have their own reasons for getting involved. For some, a place with the Dimension Data development team and the Canyon/SRAM women’s team is the goal.

However, for others, their reasons are perhaps more socially orientated. The Academy provides an accessible and safe environment in which to train with a world-wide community of other cyclists that encourage and motivate each other during the training sessions and group rides.

Whether your goal is to win the pro-contract or just ride for the social enjoyment, riders on the academies will benefit from a professionally supported trainSharp training block which will make them faster, fitter, and stronger.

Q: What is the criteria for entering the competition for the men and the women – (the same for both or different)
trainSharp: The men’s Academy is open to all non-professional, male cyclists aged 18 years or older as of September 1st, 2017. To be eligible for the semi-finals and a shot at a contract with Team Dimension Data’s Continental U23 squad, riders must be aged 21 years or younger on September 1st, 2017. The women’s Academy is open to all non-professional, female cyclists aged 18 years or older as of September 1st, 2017. There is no other criteria.

Q: What are key numbers (ball park) teams will look for …
trainSharp: We have an idea of figures based on our experience with pro-teams but until we start to collate actual performance data from the Academy sessions it’s difficult to provide a specific answer. Having said that, for the guys we would probably be looking for at least 5.5 W/kg for 20 min power and 7 W/kg for 3 min power. For the women’s academy, we would be looking for something like 4.5 W/kg and 6 W/kg for 20 min and 3 min power respectively. These numbers would certainly put a rider in a good position when it comes to selecting semi-finalists.

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Q: What will the tests be devised by trainSharp for the riders to complete?
trainSharp: There are two key tests within the Zwift Academy – functional threshold power and a critical power test. Both tests provide the trainSharp physiologists and coaches with important performance data about the rider.

Q: In trainSharp’s opinion, under 23 riders in Britain should be entering – yes?
trainSharp: This is a great opportunity for young riders! What have they got to lose? Given the potential talent pool in the UK, it’s more than possible that both Zwift academies can produce riders who could race at a World Tour level.

Q: Do they need a Zwift subscription?
trainSharp: Riders will benefit from a 7-day free Zwift subscription (after which they will pay US$10 a month), free access to Today’s Plan and support from trainSharp for the duration of the academies.

Q: During the process, is help available from trainSharp?
trainSharp: During the qualifying stage, riders in both academies will receive group advice, hints and coaching tips on how to successfully complete the training sessions, group rides and races. We will also offer advice on fuelling for sessions and post-workout recovery. Each Academy has a closed Facebook group where we can answer rider questions and offer further advice if required. The successful semi-finalists will benefit from more bespoke, structured training advice.

Q: If they make a shortlist, what happens next and how is the winner decided – testing taken onto the road with the team?
trainSharp: To advance to the semi-finals, the riders from both Academies will need to have completed the trainSharp sessions, the 5 group rides and 2 races. In addition, each rider will need to have accurately weighed themselves prior to the start of the academy and on the day of each test – the FTP and critical power tests.

This information will then need to be uploaded via the rider’s Zwift Academy Today’s Plan account. The top 10 riders in each academy will then be selected by a panel from Team Dimension Data/Canyon SRAM, trainSharp and Zwift and invited to progress through to the semi-finals.

Q: During the testing, they will need to get familiar with Today’s Plan?
trainSharp: Yes, to enrol onto the Academy and track progress, the riders will need to create or connect an existing Today’s Plan account. All Academy participants get a free premium subscription to Today’s Plan for the length of the program.

Today’s Plan is internet based platform that trainSharp use to plan, structure and deliver rider coaching sessions. It also provides a host of training tools and analytics for riders, coaches and physiologists.

Once a rider has connected their Today’s Plan account to Zwift, the ride will automatically upload to Today’s Plan for analysis, as well as assessment by the trainSharp and Zwift team. Riders can also automatically upload other ride files from platforms such as Garmin Connect & Wahoo.

Q: What would the process for a typical test be for the competition? IE, during each drill, what would the steps be from setting up the bike to getting their data into the system for trainSharp to log?
trainSharp: To start with, we recommend that riders leave at least 48 hours between each session and aim to complete two to three sessions a week so that they don’t have to bunch them together towards the end of the qualifying period.

If riders are completing a test, they will need to accurately weigh themselves prior to the start of the test. This information will then need to be uploaded via your Zwift Academy Todays Plan account. Riders should also take some time to familiarise themselves with the test instructions before getting started.

Take some time to make sure your bike is set-up correctly, ensure that the head unit is calibrated, you have a sweat towel to hand and your water bottle is within reach. Once a rider has completed a session, they should be able to sync it to their Today’s Plan account.  … continued after advert


More about Zwift …
1. To use Zwift, what other options, beginners, middle and high end are there?
trainSharp: The Zwift subscription is a set price (see below) and there are no tiered options available.

However, riders can select the intensity of the session based on W/kg. For a novice rider, the social aspect may be more important and so they may select and easy or open group ride. More experienced riders can select a higher intensity session and join other riders of a similar ability. Riders looking for a ‘higher-end’ training experience would benefit from becoming a trainSharp coached rider where our bespoke sessions can be automatically uploaded to Zwift from Today’s Plan.

2. It’s a subscription service?
trainSharp: Yes, Zwift is a subscription service. Riders can sign up for a 7-day free trial and then it’s US$10 per month.

3. I understand there are Zwift races?
trainSharp: Zwift hold many group rides and races each day at different times to suit riders in all time zones and of different abilities. You can select the intensity and time of the ride or just choose an open group ride. Every group ride has a leader to show you the way. Full details of daily rides can be round on the Zwift website.

4. With Zwift, riders can choose riders to ride with?
trainSharp: Yes, you can search for other cyclists and ride with them. However, there will be other riders on the road pretty like it would be in real-life!

5. How can Zwift help with training
trainSharp: Zwift can help provide the ‘social motivation’ required to complete some of the tougher training sessions and push riders beyond their comfort zone. We often find that many riders spend hours consistently training at a mid-level and so they find that training progression and race performance stagnates.

Improvements in performance, however big or small, are the result of adaptations to your body and its response to exercise. This adaptation process relies on a sufficient, and regular, training stimulus to bring about a physiological change.

In other words, we need to train above a certain ‘threshold’ level to overload the body, make ourselves feel tired and activate our physiological repair mechanisms. Structured coaching allows you to hit the hard sessions hard, and enjoy it, knowing that you have achieved what you set out to do!

6. In trainSharp’s opinion, what are the key advantages of a system like Zwift?
trainSharp: As previously mentioned, the greatest advantage of Zwift is that it offers an accessible and safe environment in which to train, together with other like-minded riders.

Support from the world-wide community of riders can help you push yourself to train hard and achieve your goals with motivating visual cues. This is particularly useful during winter when the weather can prevent riders from completing some outdoor sessions.

Our trainSharp workout programs are designed to offer a good training stimulus to all levels of riders. Bespoke sessions for our coached riders are automatically uploaded to Zwift from Today’s Plan and then the data is transferred back into Today’s Plan at the end of the session.

This ensures that our trainSharp riders benefit from the motivation of completing the session in Zwift with the professional feedback and analysis from our elite coaches and physiologists.

Further InformationtrainSharp Website | Email – info@trainsharpcyclecoaching.co.uk



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