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Back 2019-08-09

CANYON//SRAM Zwift Academy Winner Ella Harris Enjoying the Ride


CANYON//SRAM Racing’s Ella Harris is learning to live the life of the pro. Race. Travel. Sponsor duties. Harris joined the team this year as a neo-pro after winning the 2018 CANYON//SRAM Zwift Academy. She’s been enjoying the ride and learning ever since. We were happy to catch up with the 21-year-old New Zealand native last week at Prudential Ride London. Below are edited excerpts of our conversation:

All photos by Balint Hamvas Cyclephotos

What’s been the biggest adjustment turning pro?

Probably just the move to Europe. I had been to Canada, the U.S., and Australia before, but I had not been to Europe before last year when I came to the Zwift camp. That was quite a big adjustment, the day-to-day things you don’t really anticipate like going to the supermarket or taking a train. Just the small things.


How about the physical side of moving up to race at this level?

It’s been pretty good, actually. It’s just been more the elements of racing that we don’t really have in New Zealand or I haven’t experienced before. The cobbles. The crosswinds. Just wind in general. Narrow roads. Once I’ve had a taste of it, it’s been easier.

Have any of the women on the team been especially helpful or have been mentors to you?

Everyone’s just been very supportive. At any race they’ve been willing to share their wisdom and help me out. There are a couple of other young girls on the team as well, so we jell together quite nicely.


How did you get into cycling?

My parents did multisport and triathlon events, so I just naturally gravitated toward that side of sport. Once I realized I couldn’t swim too well and I had a few running injuries, I just decided to focus on cycling.

What has been your highlight so far?

It was a pretty awful race to actually ride in because the weather was atrocious and I had a few injuries working against me. But Yorkshire was pretty cool. The crowds were awesome there. The crowds were amazing.


Now that you’ve lived in Europe for a while, any new favorite foods?

There are just a few foods we don’t have back at home that when I’m here I tend to have lots of, whether it be mozzarella or Spanish ham… Spanish tapas.

Were you surprised to win the CANYON//SRAM Zwift Academy?

When I first signed up, the end goal was obviously to win it. But I never thought it would be me. I always knew I had a chance but I thought, ‘oh, yeah, there will always be someone who’s just that much better.’ There are so many people who start the academy with that dream, for me to be the last one standing it was pretty surreal.

Beyond fitness on the bike, what is the most important element of being a successful pro racer?

Just having a good mindset. Not letting things get to you too much, just being able to remain calm. Just being able to handle the setbacks, just be resilient really. If you have a bad race just try to bounce back from it.

Follow @WMNCycling and @EllaHarris on Instagram.

More on the Zwift Academy 2019.