Dodgy race categories

There seems to be a bit of a disconnect at the moment with seemingly high watts riders who should be riding in Cat A are seemingly being allowed to ride as Cat B even in category enforced races.
I can’t figure out how some of these seemingly B riders whose power outputs over all the 20m, 5min etc are way higher than mine yet they are still in Cat b.
I’m proud to race as an A and would much rather race as a Cat A and get my butt kicked than race as a Cat B and win that category.
Is zwift not monitoring this closely enough or is the algorithm having fun!

Higher MAP performance will actually lower zFTP, so that’s sometimes a reason. It’s somewhat counter-intuitive but apparently intentional. Riders being under the Watt floor of 250W zFTP for category A is another reason that can happen if the rider is a lightweight.

Ultimately you do not have access to the information that would let you know if the rider’s category is incorrect unless they choose to share it. Looking at ZwiftPower won’t tell you.

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I agree with Paul Deering, and it’s not about the low watts low weight riders, which are often women, like me. There’s no advantage really to that, especially on any course that isn’t a pure climb, and few are. In multiple races, a very large chunk of the the B riders are over 300 Watts for FTP AND over 4.2 w/kg as well. In one race today alone, there are 2 B riders at over 340W AND also 4.3w/kg. How on earth are they not cat A?

It’s hard to know what their weight was at the time they set their PRs in the last 90 days. If you just take their zFTP from ZwiftPower and divide it by their current weight on their profile, that doesn’t tell you their zFTP W/kg used by Category Enforcement. That information is not public. My guess is they are very close to the category border. Some other possibilities are riders getting an upgrade as a result of the event, but ZwiftPower not showing their new category immediately, or riders getting upgraded after they signed up for an event, in which case they are allowed to race in the category they were in when they signed up.

There are huge numbers of riders at even 4.4w/kg and over 300 W racing as B… If you look at any individual rider, this isn’t their first rodeo at those watts or w/kg. They have long histories of those capabilities. Im just trying to do some racing with some health issues, but if I look at the races I was doing a year ago, the B racers were not routinely doing over 300watts or well over 4.1w/kg, let alone doing both at the same time. It’s night and day. These should be A grade racers.

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Just looking over even more past results. It was an exception for a B racer to do over 300watts FTP. Now it’s a vast part of the field.

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Hard to say for sure without looking at the details, but one thing we do know is that the category boundaries were adjusted last year with a higher minimum for A, so it’s not a surprise that there are stronger riders in B this year.

You might be aware that on ZwiftPower you can see two different things, for other riders, which might be mistaken as race category limits.

There is a zFTP shown in watts which when divided by Zwift’s average weight system would give you a race category zFTP w/kg. As Paul has said you can’t know what their average weight has been over the past 90 days. ( you can probably take a rough guess)

There is also a 20 minute w/kg figure or watts figure which you can see. I think these are the 4.3 & 4.4w/kg in B cat races you can see. Two years + ago these figures would have been multiplied by 0.95 and if the resulting figure (of best 3 average) had been over 4.0 w/kg the rider would have been promoted to A cat.

Two years ago the ZP race category system was replaced by a Category Enforced (CE) system. For this system an estimate of their FTP/CP was made using various powers along a curve. More often than not this estimated figure, now called zFTP, didn’t match what people could see from riders’ 20 minute powers. At that time if your zFTP (still called CP at that time) in w/kg was over 4.0 w/kg you became an A category racer.

In August 2022 the category limits were raised for the reasons given in link below.

If effect, and I think believed by many, this just allowed bottom A cat racers to now become B cat racers. This may be one reason why you feel there are more very strong B cat racers than before.

But really confusing to many is why someone doing 4.3w/kg, 4.4 w/kg or even 4.5 w/kg are still in Cat B. Answer because the power curve calculation (originally brought in to cover less than 20 minute max efforts) is supposedly more accurate than 95% of an ACTUAL 20 minute max effort.


Wow, thanks. I think I’m going to have to read your reply a few times over to really grasp it all. But I think your comment about bottom cat A racers now becoming B racers really hits the mark. I would say in some races, the B field is flooded with these. Whatever shenanigans Zwift has done with their way of categorisation, it doesn’t seem as though it’s made racing fairer. Also, personally, I don’t see why a cat A racer would want to race as a B, even if it would put them top of the category. Where’s the honour of that? I’m currently categorised cat C, but racing cat B, as I always used to (that or even cat A at times). I’d rather be slaughtered by the B field than win a C race. Perhaps I just need to get onboard with the new system and become a C, but I’d rather go kicking and screaming and busting a few blood vessels first.


Zwift has made quite some changes in the last year+. Unfortunately combining several things at once with poor (or non-existent) communication around it.

First thing is the 'category enforcement’s, which was not just category enforcement but intertwined with a new categorisation.
Second is the change in pack dynamics. There were several iterations.
Third is several changes to the categories. When first introduced a lot of B riders became A riders. Gradually categories were loosened whereby now a lot of A riders became B, Cs became B etc.

The first is just a mess. Just see the constant posts regarding categories. The issue is never the enforcement but rather the categorization. The third is another thing that made things much worse. Also see the lack of riders in A currently. I believe in terms of numbers - given the new categorization which I think is horrible - the first grouping was actually better, with a lot of Bs becoming A. They also did quite well there actually… The second combined with mostly the third made it hard to see impact. Average watts required seem to be higher than before but is it due to pack dynamics of the changes to categories? I have no idea.

Anyway, personally I find it all much worse than with the 20m categories. That was better than what we have now. That with just simple enforcement would be much better than what we have now, even ignoring the improvements have been made independently based on Compound Score. Personally I like Zwift much less than I did two years ago. I even prefer running now to zwifting… While I never ran before and used to race on Zwift four times a week I now have done two races in four weeks. All these things making it worse in my opinion contributed but c’est la vie.

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Hi Stan, I agree about it seeming to have gone downhill. I don’t know what the change is with pack dynamics. However, I do know that on the road, I can sit in a high class, fast pack and barely peddle at high speed at times. With Zwift, that’s never been an option, so drafting has never been like in real life. However, now it seems even worse. I also seem to be putting out substantially more w/kg up a hill, than someone progressing at roughly the same pace up the hill. Perhaps that’s just my perception. But it definitely seems that some things have been tinkered around with that make it less like real life racing. For me it feels like raw watts now have a skewered advantage over watts/kg.

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Try some races that use other metrics for categorisation :wink:

VirtuSlo, TFC Mad Monday, SZR Midweek Winter Series … and there must be others (I’m sure people will chip in to name a few more!).

That´s what I´m doing, until Zwift improve CE or move to a Results based system.

Join the dark side :sweat_smile:


Agree with some points in your post, but not with the bold.
The 0.95 x 20’ was to easy to sandbag.

Try some races that I mentioned in the post #12
At least it will be a different experience!
For real, give it a try! :slightly_smiling_face:

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Those races are definitely better in terms of categorisation. However, information around it is limited as race information is generally lacking within Zwift. Here Zwift could also make numerous improvements, which they likely won’t.

Sauce for Zwift has one developer making very useful ingame information based on information of Zwift itself. Which Zwift themselves have been unable to despite numerous requests for years. IndieVelo is made by one developer and the pack dynamics seem to be better than those in Zwift. Compound Score has been developed by one person as well and is better than the categorizations of Zwift. Zwiftpower was made by two people (or just one?) and was much better in terms of supporting racing than what Zwift has done since.

In short: Zwift is the Myspace of indoor cycling. It was there first. Worked reasonably well but will be blown away and a distant memory. That they can only thank themselves for. Unfortunately, also for us in this intermediate period.


It’s such a shame and demotivating some of these changes. I am just browsing possible races for Saturday. In the Epic stage 1 Tour de Zwift alone, in category/pace B, there is one rider with a 20min of 4.3w/kg and 449W. How in hell isn’t he a cat A? The whole thing has become farcical.

Is that in a race or in Tour de Zwift? Because TdZ uses rhe categories for the distance and not for the usual w/kg ranges. So for example a TdZ B stage will have A/B//C/D riders in it, because B just is the route selection and not a power category.

I was able to find the profile they were talking about (I think) and their category in ZP was B. They were just under the cat boundary from a w/kg perspective if I recall correctly their weight was 105kgs.

On Zwift there are surprisingly a lot of fit 100kg individuals.

Absolutely agree with that re so many heavy, super fit people. Never seem to see that on the road, except in pure sprinters. So, just looking at the Stage 3 Race like a champ on Monday, there is one B racer with 4.5 wkg and 395 w for 20mins. Another 4.3 wkg 335 w for 20mins. They should have made these B+ or something rather than just dump them in B. But Mr Deering, who is 4.4w/kg and and a lower, 317 watts, is forced to race in A. The system’s complete crock.

In stage 1 Epic race tomorrow, B cat, 4.3 wkg and 449 w. Oh, and 105kg. Zwift really has screwed it all up.