Virtual Talent ID: AusCycling turns online to find real-life sporting champions


AusCycling is using online technology to unearth the next generation of cycling champions with the launch of a Virtual Talent ID program announced today.  

The program makes it easy for potential athletes to put their hat in the ring for an AusCycling development opportunity inviting candidates to complete a simple workout at home using the Zwift indoor cycling platform. 

This ultra-accessible model offers multiple ways for candidates to participate. As well as testing at home, they can also take part at one of AusCycling’s in-person events, or by contacting AusCycling to host a testing day in their town or city.

ARA Australian Cycling Team member Erin Rowell, junior track world champion Tayte Ryan and AusCycling Performance Support Para and Pathway Samantha de Riter. Credit: AusCycling

AusCycling’s Virtual Talent ID is aimed at growing Australia’s talent pool by finding aspiring athletes who may not already be involved in cycling, mountain bike, BMX racing or BMX freestyle. 

AusCycling is looking for candidates in the following categories:  

  1. 16- to 22-year-olds with no background in high-performance sport, 

  1. For all ages, potential para-cyclists (people with a physical or vision impairment); and  

  1. For all ages, people with previous experience in high-performance sport. 

 Candidates can choose to attempt a) 30-minute test on Zwift remotely on their own equipment, b) a shorter 7-minute test an event hub during an AusCycling event, or c) testing at a pop-up centre hosted by AusCycling where there is sufficient demand. 

Candidates who hit benchmarks will proceed to further testing, with successful participants offered a development opportunity with AusCycling. 

AusCycling Director of Pathways Donna Rae-Szalinski said:  

“We know that a strong talent pool is the key to success on the international stage, and as we look toward the 2028 and 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games, we want to develop the next generation of elite cyclists and riders with the potential to go all the way,” Rae-Szalinski said. 

“This new talent ID program aims to identify and increase talent depth across all disciplines by expanding our search to those who may have never before ridden a bike competitively. By testing candidates virtually and at event hubs we are able to tap into talent we may not have previously had access to.” 

AusCycling CEO Marne Fechner said:  

“This exciting program provides yet another avenue to identify, develop and nurture talent ,” Fechner said.  

“Many of the great champions of cycling have come through our pathways and development programs before going on to achieve great success at an international level.   

“You never know where our future champions may come from, with many of our past and present greats starting out in other sports such as rowing, hockey, gymnastics and running. We hope this virtual talent ID program will help unearth those future stars waiting to unlock their potential.” 

ARA Australian Cycling Team member Erin Rowell has seen great success at the elite level as a para-cyclist on the track since participating in talent identification in 2021.   

Rowell, who was formerly a professional motorbike racer, participated in AusCycling’s Fast Track development program and has since won two UCI World Championship medals. 

erin rowell
Erin Rowell won a bronze medal at the 2023 UCI World Championships in the C4 500m Time Trial. Picture: SWPix

“I could have never imagined two years ago when I first participated in talent identification this is where I would be now. Not in my wildest dreams did I think I would be an elite track cyclist competing at World Championships, let alone standing on the podium,” Rowell said.

“The experience has been life-changing and being a part of the ARA  Australian Cycling Team has also enriched my life beyond just racing. It ignited a newfound passion and instilled a drive to continually pursue my goals.” 

“If you think you have what it takes to be cycling champion, head along to one of event hubs or find out how to test from home, and give it a go.”

Testing hubs will be set up at the following events in January, with more locations to be confirmed for February and March:

  • January 4–7: Federation University Road National Championships, Ballarat, VIC

  • January 12–21: Santos Tour Down Under, Adelaide, SA

Find out more here.

Main photo: ARA Australian Cycling Team member Erin Rowell with 2023 junior men’s 1000m Time Trial world champion Tayte Ryan. Credit: AusCycling

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