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- Rhys Howell

Beta is dead, long live Beta!

Three years ago, our elite team Coalition Alpha (then, CANYON ESPORTS) launched the CANYON DEV team. It was a unique U23 development programme for riders aged between 16 and 23 years old, with the ambition to nurture young talent and bring them through the ranks. We had a lot of success too: Michaล‚ rose all the way to the elite team as a permanent member, and Maud went on to win Zwift Academy! There is so much to be proud of with regards to this inaugural group of riders.

After the first year, we learnt a lot about managing an U23 squad and the difficulties that come with it, especially when many of the riders are also busy studying for exams. We took those learnings and the team entered a new phase...

The birth of Beta

The following year, we decided to transform the dev team and lift the age restrictions: the BETA squad was born. The goal was to get a mix of riders of all ages and experiences, and that's exactly what we did. Not only this, but we solidified our thinking around the BETA team being the pathway to the elite team. Again, we had a lot of success with the team and were also able to promote some of the top riders from the Coalition community to join the squad. Since its inception, multiple members of the original BETA team have gone on to become permanent members of the elite ALPHA squad. So if that pathway is still working โ€“ what is changing?

Beta is dead, long live Beta!

Maintaining a full squad of A/A+ riders is a challenging task and requires considerable time to do well. Everyone who has ridden for our BETA squads in the past two years has done so with different ideas of what it should be and what to expect, and often we've not met those expectations. This has meant that it has not always been easy to keep everyone on the same page and racing together. Then throw in a mix of unfortunate crashes, sickness and IRL priorities, and you end up with a lot of pressure being put on the remaining riders and captains. With our other teams, it can be easier to move riders around when such situations occur, but BETA was always a bit more isolated from the rest of the community. We want to do right by our best riders and that is why we are pausing the BETA teams as they currently exist, and evolving the programme into something both more manageable and accessible.

The evolution of the development pathway

BETA is becoming an individual status of verification, rather than a team. It will now be a way for us to designate riders in the Coalition community who have met certain criteria via an application process and are eligible to race with the elite team. In order to be a BETA rider, you will not have to race on any one single team, but instead will need to meet performance and transparency requirements. There will still be BETA riders in the Coalition community but no BETA teams per se. In fact, we already have five BETA riders who are supporting the elite squad in the ZGP: Arne Jacobs, Anders Bengtson, Aaron Hunt, Anna Brearley and Han Yun Zhang.

This change allows our community to be a lot more flexible in how we manage teams and means that riders from all timezones will have an opportunity to be a BETA rider and try out for the elite team. We will be sharing more details on how you can apply to be a registered BETA rider in the near future. For the time being, all existing BETA riders who are registered in the ZGP squad with the ALPHA team will retain the BETA status.

Our top community riders will now race in new teams. On the women's side, the top women's A team be called COALITION ARETE and on the men's side, riders in EMEA will race on COALITION AURORA and in the US/APAC riders will race in COALITION FRENZY. These are not just the BETA teams with new names, but the teams where BETA riders will be riding this round. We know that we have strong riders in other timezones, so this list is likely to change and grow in the future, with the goal to one day be able to re-introduce BETA teams complete with verified riders.

We would like to thank everyone who has contributed to the development of the BETA teams over the past few years, especially to our most recent captains Amanda, Siri, Alex and Anders.

Apply Now

If you are interested in applying, then the application process is now open to all members of the Coalition. You can find more details on our Discord.