ŠKODA UK, in partnership with Britain’s greatest Paralympian, Dame Sarah Storey, has announced the launch of a cycling academy for female cyclists aspiring to compete professionally.

The ŠKODA DSI Cycling Academy is open to female cyclists aged between 17 and 25 and aims to provide young amateur cyclists with a pathway to the elite level. It will give riders the experience of being a professional rider, covering the performance, nutrition and media profile required to be a modern-day professional cyclist.

Riders can apply from today through SKODA UK’s website. The cycling hopefuls will need to answer two questions about their cycling experience and link a Strava account to the page for a ŠKODA panel, that includes Storey, to analyse their cycling level in more detail. The closing date for applicants is Friday 24 May.

Watch: What is the SKODA DSI Cycling Academy?

The process

Up to 50 successful applicants will be invited to a testing day on Monday 10 June at the Lee Valley VeloPark where they will receive mentoring from 33-time World Champion, Dame Sarah Storey, and compete for a coveted place in the ŠKODA DSI Cycling Academy.

On the day cyclists will undertake four tests including a flying lap, a peak power test, a three-minute maximal test, and a 12-minute steady state challenge.

From there, the five best performing cyclists will be handpicked by Academy Principal Storey to be part of the ŠKODA DSI Cycling Academy. A further challenge will see selected riders invited to ride one stage of this year’s Tour de France alongside the Donnons Des Elle Au Vélo J-1 cycling team, who have ridden the entire route of cycling’s most famous race for the past four years.

The prize

The Academy experience will also act as an extended trial with Storey Racing, Dame Sarah Storey’s professional race team. While not guaranteed, each rider has a chance to secure a place in the team, dependent on their performance throughout the programme and the discretion of Dame Sarah Storey.

“ŠKODA is a strong advocate for gender equality in professional cycling and I am proud to support them on their latest initiative,” said Storey. “The ŠKODA DSI Cycling Academy is about promoting women within our sport, creating opportunities and clearing a path to race on a professional level. I’d urge any woman who has a passion for the sport and a desire to succeed, to apply.”