Training Talk: Zwift Academy Semi-Finalist Ollie Peckover

4 min read

When he’s not working in the warehouse at Wattbike HQ, Ollie Peckover is a seasoned under-23 road cyclist. Having raced across Europe for HMT JLT Condor as a second year junior last year, Ollie spent this season picking up a number of big wins with the 365 4 Bikes team. 

Now the season has come to an end, Ollie has been taking part in the Team Dimension Data Zwift Academy, which included a six week training programme with 9000 people signed up to take part. 

Out of the 1250+ people who completed the programme, everyone aged 19-21 was eligible for a competition where the top ten performers would progress onto the next round, which includes set workouts and outdoor rides designed by TrainSharp coaching. We’re delighted to say that Ollie has made it to the final ten places.
The next stage of the competition will send the three best semi-finalists to a training camp in Cape Town, South Africa, where they undergo intense training rides before a top performer is selected and awarded with a professional contract with Team Dimension Data’s Continental Squad. We spoke to Ollie about the Team Dimension Data Zwift Academy and how he feels about being one of the ten semi-finalists.

When you entered the Team Dimension Data Zwift Academy, did you think you would make it this far?

No way! As part of the first stage I had to complete two races, five group rides and eight intense workouts, all on Zwift. I made the rookie mistake of making my first ever time using Zwift a race. 

As a result I was caught out from the start with the pace shooting up from the gun, and this happened again once I caught up on a climb at the back of the group, being distanced from the others over the top. I was so disheartened by this that I closed the programme and went to bed early, not talking to anyone. I even considered giving up on the academy before it had even really started for me. 

Once I had completed all of the races and group rides, I moved onto the workouts. After the first workout - a 20 minute FTP test - I once again took a knock in confidence, as my power was around 40 watts down on my personal best, posting a result of 393 watts. Despite this, I continued with the programme, working through the workouts one-by-one.

During week five, I received an email saying that I had been picked out as one of the top performers, but still wasn't guaranteed a spot in the semi-finals. The week after, and the day the academy finished, I received another email confirming that I had progressed to the semi-finals of the competition, being just one of ten people selected out of the 1250+ to complete all rides and workouts. Luckily there was some family round at the time to hear the news with me.

Considering the UK race season ended before the academy began, was it difficult to hold form to make it this far, considering some riders from the southern hemisphere will be at peak fitness?

It is difficult. Coming off the end of the road season, my legs were shattered. Before the first round of the academy, I had just had a week or so off, trying to recover as much as possible before it started. For me, it was a case of recovering what I could after the season, before trying to build upon it as best I could in preparation for the academy.

After speaking with Sam Mobberly, a fellow semi-finalist from Queensland, Australia, he mentioned his season has also nearly finished. He has found it hard managing the fatigue, regular training, real life races and the academy. 

What was the hardest session of the Academy so far?

The final workout was a three minute critical power test, the worst of them all! Essentially, you sprint for the first 30 seconds before holding it for three minutes. This means going flat out and as far into the red as you can! Upon finishing the test, I was an absolute state.

What are your strengths going into the semi-finals?

Going into the semi finals, my strength is definitely my sustained power over longer periods of time, with time trials being a speciality of mine over the last few years. Although my power isn't what I'd hope it to be at this stage of the semi-finals, I am still producing close to 6 W/kg which is highly respectable by any means.

Whatever the outcome, what will be your lasting memory of the experience?

Although the semi-finals haven't yet concluded, making it this far has been a huge achievement for myself, seeing how I compare with other top under-23 riders from around the world.

To find out more about the 10 semi-finalists of the Team Dimension Data Zwift Academy, visit the Zwift website here.

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