Canyon Esports has always done things differently: since our inception, we have broken the mould for what a 'cycling team' can be. We are constantly evolving and every year we reflect on how we can continue to improve. Whilst racing at the highest level of the sport has always been at the core of what we do, in more recent years we have also focused on developing talent and building a path of progression for racers. We have a vision for the cycling team of the future well away from the well-trodden path of the past, and this new team structure is another step forwards towards that goal.
In 2020, we launched the Canyon Esports Development team after a thorough application process that included races, interviews and performance analysis. This team is made up of 10 men and 10 women, all aged between 16-23 years of age. Over the course of the last 12 months, we have had a lot of success both within eracing and outside of it and the original plan had been to open up applications for a second season of the development team. However, there were two main issues that arose throughout the year that we felt needed to be addressed:
The first issue was obvious. If we were going to have a new class of Dev riders joining for the 2022 season - what happens to the original class? If the whole point is about development then there needs to be a clear path of progression for those who have performed well throughout the year to move 'up'. But also for those who aren't ready to take that step, there needs to be other options for them.
With these two main issues in mind, we decided to evolve the development programme for the 2022 season into what will now be called the 'Beta squad" - a second team of racers who compete in Canyon Esports colours. This new squad will consist of 12 men and 12 women. Unlike the development squad, there will be no upper age limit. However, the goal is to maintain space for younger riders with roughly 50% of the team places reserved for riders aged between 16 - 23 years old. We believe that this mixture will help address the second issue we faced as highlighted above. Furthermore, we will be inviting some of the former Development riders into the Beta squad so that they may continue their progression - having even greater exposure to elite racing.
The men's and the women's teams will be supported by former Canyon Esports athletes Alex West and Siri Hildonen, both of which are former Zwift Academy finalists and veterans of the sport. They bring with them an unparalleled level of experience and expertise that will play a pivotal role in the development of riders in the new squad. Both Alex and Siri have already been active in this season of racing at the community division and it's something they look to continue in their new roles.
Alex West had this to say:
It's a huge privilege to continue to work with Canyon Esports and develop the riders of the future. I will get to use the knowledge I've gained from racing at the highest level on Zwift to help others progress and reach their highest potential. It's awesome to see how Canyon Esports is evolving and I'm stoked to be along for the ride as they continue to change the game.
Of course, whilst some development riders will be joining the new team there are still many places open and so we are once more opening up an application process that anyone can apply to. Applications are open now and close at 23:59 CET Sunday 5th December 2021. Once applications close then we will create a shortlist and invite those riders to conduct a short interview and performance test. The team will be finalised before the end of this year with the complete roster announced in the new year - ready to race on January 11th.
If you would like to apply then you can do so here: APPLY NOW
What can successful applicants expect?
NB: Whilst this is not an application process for our Elite (A) teams, any riders who already demonstrate the ability to race at Premier League level may be considered for a trial for our top teams.
As many of you will know, we have been collaborating with The Coalition eracing community which was launched in January of this year. Since then, it has become the fastest-growing racing community on Zwift - quickly growing from nothing to thirty racing teams in all categories and timezones. Due to its unprecedented ascension and incredible support network, we have decided to work with them to build the foundation of a U23 development programme starting in the new year. In the beginning, anyone aged between 16 and 23 will be able to take part in the 'Coalition Dev' programme but unlike the 'Canyon Dev' squad, there will not be a dedicated team that races together in the ZRL in Season 5. However, this is likely to change as more members continue to join.
The Coalition Dev programme will start in the new year and will be only open to members of The Coalition. If you would like to join then you can do so here: discord.gg/coalition
We plan to continue to work together to build out a crystal clear pathway for riders so that no matter your age if you want to excel in competitive cycling then the next step is clearly defined for you. This is just one way in which we build the future of bike racing.