A+ Category Discussion

In this thread, I would like to propose a couple of strong reasons why I think there should be an A+ category in some races. I would love to hear your thoughts below as well!

This idea is for races that tend to be very popular.
For example, the 3R races and DBR races are very popular for A+ riders.

Reason 1: Large A Cat leads to B Cat Sandbaggers
I know many low As just flock to the B cat race and ruin that race for the true B riders.
But I don’t blame these low A riders because they would most likely get dropped by the A++ riders pushing the pace. Right now A Cat FTPs range from 4.1->5.5+, which makes it nearly impossible for a low-mid A cat to even hang with the front on some of these races. For example, a top A+ rider can be in low-tempo while a low A rider will be in or close to a vo2max zone.

Reason 2: w/kg Creep
Also, something else I want to touch on is the w/kg creep that we have been seeing over the last couple of years. This is a bit of a weird topic as it speaks to nothing very specific other than suspected behavioral change across a community, so take it as you will.
I would like to think the Zwift community is getting stronger together and pulling in more competitive outdoor racers, but with a 5w/kg FTP becoming almost standard for many A races. it’s hard not to think that since the A Cat is so large, there would be a high incentive to not update weight for a long while to remain competitive. And for this reason, I believe a lack of higher-level categories to be the culprit behind this potential problem. Although I do admit I don’t have any concrete evidence to support this reason.

Reason 3: Fun
It’s more fun to race with those you know are at your level. You want to know that whoever races the best, wins, and not just “who has the best engine here?” Otherwise, riders would just only join races full of riders they know aren’t going to rip their legs off.

I hardly see a downside to adding another category other than fewer people per category. This is why I suggest adding it to only popular races who know they are going to attract a considerable field. This could even be a benefit where a super large field can provide a less dynamic race experience in general.

I agree that 4wkg is very low to be in the “top” category. More like 4.7 or something would be better.
For a strongish rider 4 is nothing. Most so called A+ riders can ride 4.5 until cows come home.

Whilst I have no experience with A races, I do have experience going from a new baby D to an almost B. I would go further to be honest and suggest these and all race series expand cats to a split system similar to some race series such as TFC Mad Monday.
How many times do you hear “I have to go easy if I upgrade my ZRL Team will kill me!” A+ could be re-named … P for Platinum or O for Omega (why? Because it sounds cool of course :joy:)

Yes actually, I’ve seen people say exactly that.

IRL too I know some people really dread the step up to A grade from B grade because the jump is huge. Sure it’s nice to say “hey, I’m racing A grade” but then you are shot out the back after 10-15 minutes.

Here in my country you’d go from club riders getting reasonably strong and jumping into A grade who were up against very strong elite A grade riders who have not only the fitness but better bike handling skills. So it’s very hard for those making the jump.

Just some thoughts from a former Commissaire.

I personally have no issue with an A+ category but the problem is that A in a number of events has very small fields already and splitting A/A+ would make this problem even worse.

For large A fields it does make sense.


While we have your attention, Zwift must now have numbers of A, B, C and D riders. Is it possible to get an indication of the numbers of each (even as a percentage)? I’ve always thought that there must be many Ds who don’t even start racing as the w/kg category is so wide.

I don’t have access to those numbers but would guess at a 10/40/35/15 split in racing.

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Yeah, I was more thinking of the non-racing numbers, or the “latent racers” :grin:

(I originally typed latent ravers. :rofl:)

C is the most popular category in terms of users. Higher percentage in D also.

Part of our strategy with our monthly racing series, was to make it more accessible for new racers (mainly in terms of the distance of the routes and avoiding too much elevation gain).

We’re looking to see what we can do for people that haven’t raced before but this is straying a long way from the purpose of this thread.

Somewhat on topic, we did look at potentially having an A+ category for ZRL, but we didn’t have the numbers for it outside of EMEA.

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Don’t forget that we are stuck with only 4 categories. It has been said many times that racing is constrained to ABCD, so there is not a spot for A+ or D-.

With a 8 category (ABCDEFGH) dynamic system racing for lower and upper category racers would be a lot more competitive and fun.

Some Organisers use E for A+, but obviously it relies on people choosing the correct category.

why couldn’t something like this be done when CE was being developed? Just curious to why everything seemed to stick rigidly to the ZP categories when Zwift had the chance to make a real change to the system or is it because ZP is still used by many instead of everyone being forced to adopt CE that 4 cats had to be stuck to?

Changes to the categories in game is more complicated than it should be.

Also I don’t believe we ever planned to cater to A+ as an overall category (mainly due to reasons I outlined above)

fair enough regarding the categories

If we are going to be limited to five starting pens for the foreseeable future, we need to use a category system that makes far more use, in a fair manner, of the fifth pen .

One solution is Compound Score, 5mins raw Watts multiplied by 5mins W/Kg, with no minimum metric score preventing a pen promotion. A certain site already uses it, https://www.zwiftracing.app/ :wink:

ZwiftHQ were looking at it, but realistically how long a time frame are we looking at to implement it? Oct '23 at earliest?

No doubt there’s other solutions too.

But by using all five pens efficiently, depending on the criteria, the range of ability in the top tier and bottom tiers could be reduced and give closer racing.

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For racing yes, but remember there are actually events in Zwift (!!!) that aren’t races.

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@James_Zwift James (or anyone else for that matter) Am i right in thinking a two tier system is to much work to sort out before and after? For example a Race lets say ZRL (largest turn out i guess?) having two levels (a high and low Cat) for the same race? Or is it just a fear that there will not be enough participation as you mentioned earlier with A and A+
I think everyone agrees the cat’s as they stand are just to wide! I realise sandbaggers will sandbag no matter what the present state but at least it will be better than what we have now ‘in the mean time’ surely?
Something is better than nothing sort of idea :slight_smile:

I don’t think it’s even possible to do so without having say C+ and C- starting in different pens.

Agree on size of A group, D has a similar issue.

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A shame, split cat’s won’t solve the problems but it may ease them a bit. I am also having my first taste of FRR World Tour (ouch) which uses normalised data rather than Cat and it seems pretty cool as well.

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On Tuesday night https://www.zwiftracing.app/ and DIRT got together and 8 different races (8 pens) covered everybody. Great thinking beyond the current easy set up option. (All pens based on Race Ranking )