Yes, this. I’m “forced” to enter A due to the math, yet I finish last almost every time, usually by a fair margin. My finish time is almost invariably in the middle of B… so that’s what I’m going to enter from now on. I don’t care if I get DQ’ed in the results. Either the cat calculations are misguided and/or there are plenty of B riders working the system. I’m sure it’s a mix. When I enter B, no one will know during the race because I’ll be riding with a mix of A and B, then eventually just B (and sometimes eventually C).
Mike, if you enter as an A, which is your correct category based on your power and weight, and if you can’t keep up then you’ll end up riding with B racers. Why do you need to enter as a B ?
Unless you are doing Crits which tend to be limited to category only.
I think I personally struggle with this, as I’m in a really privileged position of being in the A cat and have never raced in lower cats. I would have the idea that you race in the highest cat you can, because for me the race is the front of the race, not the front of the category (presuming they went off at the same time).
But yes this element of the system needs fixing for those that don’t see it this way.
But it would not fix the weight/height cheats or those with dodgy power numbers.
But should this level of scrutiny be reserved for the top of the A race?
I think if you are consistently winning A races (like the person I mentioned) then you need to verify.
I was called out and I have verified my weight and power is correct.
Because it’s demoralizing to finish last every time. For awhile it was ok, but it’s consistent and takes some form of fun out of it. Do you always finish last in your cat? If so, how does it feel? The formula says I’m an A, but clearly the formula needs more/different variables. Also, it’s frustrating to see lots of B (and sometimes C) riders finish ahead of me. Up to half of them are probably weight doping or have trainer issues (or maybe it’s my trainer, although I’m on a Kickr with companion app), which is why I’m in favor of posting metadata at the start so we can at least “see” what the field looks like (like scoping out riders and their gear at a race start IRL). Folks with odd setups or low weight would stand out.
Certainly, there are B riders legitimately beating me. They are the ones motivating me (doubt I’ll ever finish in the middle of A). I could learn and race smarter, of course. I probably need to start slower and conserve more energy. However, I suspect I’d end up in the same place, meaning my stats would put me in A, but it’s something to try.
That’d be everyone in the race, right? (unless there’s something that prevents a lower cat rider from entering a higher cat.) That would make it an open race… I’d be in favor of that over what’s happening now. I’m also in favor of auto-cat placement based on race history, as many have also expressed.
Yes, there are no sandbaggers in A, only actual cheaters. I think that’s a different discussion.
I would 100% agree that the race is determined by the riders in the group and not an arbitrary and inaccurate measurement of “power”. That’s what a race is - if we wanted to compare FTP, there’s no need to bother even racing.
But in the current system, if I were to join my “correct” category - I get dropped 30 seconds into the race. There is no “front” for me, it is only a very boring solo ride that of course I’m not going to do again. And everyone who is below the 50% percentile of their category is in the same position. There’s no race and no point.
And those people get bored and start turning group rides into unofficial races.
The only people who seem to complain about sandbaggers are people who had a shot at winning their category. Everyone else has bailed on the racing system.
I’m a high C but don’t typically figure in the final standings because my 5 minute power is a bit low and for most road races on Zwift you need that type of power during the event to finish well. That said, I always report sandbaggers in a race because they foul up the race between the correct in category riders. If you’ve got riders out of category pushing at the start, and we all do that, then the selection takes place much earlier than it should thus blowing apart the peloton. You end up with little groups and solo riders. Not a fun race.
You can see these people quite easily during the start because anybody putting down 4.5w/kg for 10 minutes is not a C rider. And you can see them in the final results with something stupid like 3.5w/kg for the entire event.
THIS is why we need to police the categories. Nobody else is going to do it.
Cheats in A cat was actually the point of this discussion. Not sandbaggers.
To update I’ve reported this guy twice now, even sent an email to Zwift who told me to fill the form in.
So far… nothing
I like to let my official group streak off into the distance (I got dropped) and wait for the lower Cat to catch up, and if I’m feeling up to it, I try to tag along with them until the sprint were I get dropped again.
It’s still great fun. I agree a solo ride is no fun and can see your point on why group rides become unofficial races.
Hi MIke, If Zwiftpower has you as an A then that is what you are. In order for you to get to an A you had to exceed BOTH FTP power and w/kg thresholds.
I recommend that you might choose different races that suit your ability and ask yourself why you are finishing last in every race. Is it your long 20 min power ( I doubt it) or your ability to surge and put out short burst? If I were to do CritCity crits with the B group I would be last every race but if I do the longer flat races of all categories I can hang in there, not with the front group but with the second group which are usually B and C riders.
Enter races with all categories shown and if you get dropped from the A group there will be a B and C groups to slot yourself into. My ideal group is with the middle B and top C racers. If you pick the right races you should never have to race alone nor enter a lower category than you really are.
My “LBS” is over 2 hours away. I highly doubt they are Zwift sanctioned. Not a solution at all.
Thank you for the feedback, Bob. I race when it’s convenient for my schedule, so choosing the type of race is secondary.
Zwift uses the best 3 performances in the last 90 days. Seems like bad science as it should be an average of all your results over a given period of time. FTP is apparently also a factor, but the FAQs don’t say how FTP is used…? (mine is “286 estimated”)
So one’s 20min W/KG has to hit 4.21 to be over 4.0 for 95%. For me, I hit that mark in less than 10% of the races and those are shorter races. So I’m being “forced” into a category I can only achieve <10% of the time (and then it’s barely).
I get dropped on the hills. I just can’t keep up. Or if can keep up on the first hill, I need too much recovery time and get dropped hard on the next hill. Work on hills then? Sure, but while my weakness doesn’t seem to affect my category, is greatly affecting the results.
If I were to enter B and finishing near the top, then I’d be sandbagging. But that’s not happening. I almost invariably finish in the middle of B. It’s strange and frustrating to see B riders power up hills at 5-6+W/KG and somehow not get DQ’ed.
Today I entered the 3R & TWELVE Squared 144 Challenge. I was DNF because I ran out of time (wasn’t planning on 4.5 hours), but I had dropped to the bottom of the list due to the elevation. Looking over the results, I see the top two finishers were 55kg and 56kg, respectively… and that’s how I will bring this back to the original “cheats in A cat” topic.
Great reply! When I say ftp I mean your 20min power as shown in Zwift power. So to be upgraded you had to exceed 4.0w/kg AND 250watts.
A number of others have been bumped up due to short races so your point in valid. You are also correct that the upgrade system leaves a lot to be desired and can be manipulated.
In the game it’s better to look at numbers for improvement rather geography because in the end that’s all we got. 20min, 5min, 1min… it’s all about putting out the watts. I haven’t looked at your power numbers but there are guys here who are real experts at telling exactly what part of your power profile you would need to work on. I assume one of your power segments is probably below the others.
I empathize with you on the 55kg dudes who are lighter than most supermodels and professional bike racers for that matter but nothing we can really do about that.
As a last resort you might ask the moderator here to reset your history because 3 short races have skewed your category but you are obviously strong enough to be an A so you might end up right back where you are now unless you do longer races. Or wait for those short races to fall off and you’ll be downgraded.
Bob, thanks again for the reply. I’ll call myself out a bit… I’ve done 103 races. Looking at the 20min column, here’s the breakdown:
4.4 (7 times, and also my max)
4.3 (8 times)
4.2 (22 times)
Because 4.2 x 0.95 = 3.99 there’s no way to know how many of those 4.2 marks are over the Cat A threshold limit and how many are under it, so I’ll just say half of them. So, 26 races out of 103 are legitimate A performances, which means I’m categorized based on 25% of my results. That’s probably about right because I’d say 75% of the time I finish last in A (and middle of B) and 25% of the time I’m somewhere toward the bottom of A (and somewhere toward the top of B).
Another helpful user here did point out that while my constant power output is pretty good, my “punch and recover” numbers are not so great. I only race on Zwift… i.e. I don’t “train”. I’m open to the idea of specific training programs on Zwift that would target my weakness. I haven’t looked at that.
My other option is to not burn myself out at the start of every race and see if that helps with the hills. However, I’d still finish in the same place as I’d fall behind immediately rather than at the first hill.
I’m also considering lowing my trainer difficulty to something below 50% (currently around 80%, I think) to see what happens. I’ve wondered if less resistance would provide more “head room” to push watts uphill like so many other riders do. I know it’s more complicated than that, and watts are watts getting up a hill, but that’s another thread.
Of course, the entire Zwift racing community is likely secondary (or lower) on the Zwift priority list relative to the more casual, non-competitive training/workout audience (e.g. appealing to Peloton type users). Generally, they probably don’t mind letting the racers debate amongst themselves.
I don’t think you’d push more watts but you’d push them in a different gear and it would feel different. I like to ride in the middle of my cassette and shift up or down only 1 or 2 cogs unless I’m climbing or sprinting. I set my trainer resistance to about 35% and only use the big front ring (52).
I know you said time constraints often dictate your schedule and you said that hills are your biggest challenge right now so maybe look for some flatter races that are over 40min in duration.