# Did I calculate my race category wrong?

I just tried my first ever Zwift Race. Before I signed up and tried to figure out what category to choose, I came across this guide:

So I took the FTP that Zwift had assigned me from my last FTP test, divided it by my weight in Kg and came up with 3.6 w/kg. That put me right in the middle of group “B” so that’s what I chose. Was that right? Because it sure didn’t seem that way.

When the race went off I was immediately hanging on. At the first climb, I fell back to next to last. Within a few miles, I was dead last and that’s how I finished: Over 2 minutes behind the guy just in front of me and at least 6 minutes behind everybody else. I was completely in over my head. All for a 30k race

Is this normal? Should I just start entering group “C” now? Because there is no way I should have been racing with those people.

Or did I just calculate my group wrong?

[Edit, I should mention I was using a Tacx Neo2]

Haha! I’ve only ever tried one race in Zwift and that was in category D. I was doubtful that the majority of people in that race genuinely belonged in category D, and their performance metrics at the end of the race seemed to support that. Search the web, and you’ll find plenty of people saying similar things.

(To be clear, I’m a terrible cyclist, FTP of 185. I would expect to do relatively poorly in a D race, regardless of others’ performance.)

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There are a few useful resources on Zwift races that can help. First, check the race results, and look at the average W/kg of the people you ended competing against, and yours. You’ll see if you’re at least in the right ball park. Assuming yes (but useful in any case), two important “rules” on Zwift races:
a) the first 3-5 minutes are pedal to the metal. My FTP is approx 220 (I’m a D man), I hold 280-320 in the first couple of minutes. This is when the peloton explodes and the groups form.
b) It’s all about drafting. Never be alone, don’t drive the front of the bunch unless you need to (to catch up with a group ahead, to chase attacks, whatever), but conserve your energy as much as possible - except for the first 3-5 minutes, of course.

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Register with zwiftpower to see the real results, too many sandbaggers register for the wrong category and it screws up the results. Basically zwiftpower upgrades or DQs people who are in the wrong category.

In the zwift companion app, I’m midpack usually, but on zwiftpower I find sometimes my 12th place can actually be a podium finish.

Also look at your results on zwiftpower to see your actual w/kg in each race, you may just be in that space where you are too strong for C cat, but not strong enough to complete at the top level of B cat

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I’m thinking of dropping down to “C” myself. In a ~1hr race, I can hang with the “B” group for about 30min, on my limit before I get popped. This is only on flat courses, I don’t enter anything with a hill.
At 88kg, even though I have a 380W ftp I’m going backwards very quickly on any uphill greater than 2%.

Please don’t do that, 4.3 w/kg has no place in a category with a 3.1-3.3 max…

As a bigger rider, maybe focus on flatter races

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No you didn’t calculate it wrong. I stopped racing in zwift because no one actually signed up for the cat they were supposed to in the few races I’ve tried. I would register for the 2-3 W/kg group, and my group would all talk about how “we should keep it about about 3.7!” What?? Then you should be in the 3-4 group you asshats! I’d end up getting dropped and racing alone, cause I couldn’t put up then power to stay with “my group.” This happened EVERY TIME. Unfortunately, zwift is full of sandbaggers to b the be point that it has ruined races for me. I like to just get on a do recovery rides now. My main training comes from another program.

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OK, so I already was on Zwiftpower. I took a look at the results and it’s a bit better but not much. It now lists me as 12th overall instead of 17th as it had me before. But I’m still last in the B’s.

Here are the results, FYI.

My w/kg for the race came out to 3.3, but I should admit that once I was 2 minutes behind the next guy and had no chance of catching anyone, I mailed it in.

Almost all of the "B"s in front of me were 3.6 to 3.9 so I guess I did pick the right group, I just have to race faster.

One oddity though: The one guy immediately in front of me (the one guy I held on to the longest) averaged only 2.2 w/kg but still stomped me by almost 2 minuts. So – minor question now – how does someone do only 2/3 of my watts and still beat me by that much?

(In the end, I guess I don’t really care how he did it but it does seem odd. He is the guy I was hanging on to for 1/3 of the race. And even after he got away from me, he never had anybody to draft. My bike was the Zwift Aero and my wheels were the 808s)

Anyway I guess I’ll stick with the "B"s and try a few more races.

Thanks

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Even weirder. I just discovered that you can look at the results in the Zwift Companion app also. But there the w/kg are completely different. Even for me.

In the Companion app, my w/kg are 3.1 (vs 3.3 on ZwiftPower). Guy ahead of me is now 3.57 (vs 2.2) Winner of the "B"s is now 5.16 (vs 3.9).

Bizarre

I apologize for going on and on about minutiae like this. Just trying to understand how things work.

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If the other rider was in a pack, this could easily be the case. Especially if Double Draft / True Draft was in effect for the race. 2.0 w/kg in the pack is faster than 3.5 w/kg on your own.

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FTP is just a guide, it doesn’t really matter much except in a long flat time trial. Zwift racing is very different to that, being much more heavily weighted to mass.

And with the rise in #doubledraft racing, it’s all down to how heavy you are, to get those high burst of W/kg to stay with the group.

W/kg is not a perfect indication - if the course is flat, a higher-weight same W/kg rider will outpace you.

That’s just it. The other ride was not in a pack, he was all alone. By the time he dropped me, we were both about 2 or 3 minutes behind everyone else. He never caught up to any of them. So he wasn’t drafting

No matter. It’s all virtual

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W/kg at FTP should filter you into the correct category. If you sandbag a lower cat, I feel sorry for those racing with you.

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Not sure what you mean “sandbagging”. Just trying to find a category that I can finish with the group. FTP isn’t much help in finding this.

If your FTP doesn’t help finding this, can you please explain how you deduce your FTP ?

Here’s an example: Bradley Wiggins, talented track cyclist, hold the hour record, likely has a very high FTP. If you hold a sprint competition, would you place him in the “A” group based on his high FTP?

Of course not, since FTP is not going to tell you much about how someone will perform in a 10 second sprint. Poor Bradley hasn’t a chance, even against an amateur sprinter, let alone Matthew Glaetzer.

Zwift is simply a different discipline of cycling with a different set of constraints. #doubledraft racing means that FTP is basically irrelevant, if you can burst enough sprint power repeatedly to hang in the group.

seems like your ftp number is wrong, no way 4.3wkg ftp at your weight can be dropped from B, from A — yes, but not from B. Redo the FTP test and remember doing those 20 minutes at a steady pace, no sprints etc. that will give you more realistic number which means better experience of races and workouts.

Galen, I find it hard believe since I can barely hold your wheel on the track! (and I can usually suffer my way to decent A results in these races)
-zak

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