Drafting in races

Drafting on Zwift…

Sorry if you’ve already read this on the Zwiftcast Listeners Facebook page but wanted to put this on here too to generate further converstion, hopefully!

My question is, is Zwift HQ looking at the drafting algorithms at all?! In my opinion, it seems they are really focused on drawing high numbers of people to Zwift and overlooking some of the basics…

For example, the blob effect is a killer. The races go like this: max effort for two minutes. Hang in with the best blob that you can. If you get dropped from your blob you sir up until the next one comes along. Sprint at the finish. Every time! I used to really enjoy the racing but it has become rather samey, in my opinion.

Surely Zwift could make the racing far more interesting for the racers and the viewers on Zwift Community?

Is it not possible to alter the algorithm so

a) riders can’t ride through each other

b) riders slow down in the corners (and waste power if they pedal too hard)

c) the crazy blob effect is reduced (I have never seen a small group get away from the blob despite putting out more power and w/kg than the chasing pack)

d) enable riders to bridge gaps or stay away from the blob (linked to the previous point)

e) focus more on watts rather than w/kg for very low power (usually young tiny riders - like my 11 year old son - who are going WAY too fast! (but not fast enough yet, luckily!))

I know hilly races break the race up but the issue is that if you get dropped, you’re dropped: you’re never going to get back on. It would be great if you could descend well or work well as a group to get back across, like in real life when the heavier riders are distanced a little on the hills but can get back in.

Don’t get me wrong. I am a HUGE fan of Zwift. It’s an amazing app and I’ll gladly be jumping back on there tomorrow. My wife and two young kids are all over it too so there’s superb family value too. Quality time in the shed! But if RGT can implement the things I have mentioned above, then why can’t Zwift? I jumped on RGT a few days ago for the first time and the cornering and drafting was ace - it felt so much more realistic than Zwift.

I know Zwift is a game and not supposed to be a replica of real life but there are tonnes of us racers out there that would love Zwift to look more into this. For example, could there be different algorithms for different races so people can sign up for what they want?

I know a lot of people agree with this so if you do, like this or post your thoughts and hopefully Zwift HQ may look into it more - if they aren’t already!!

See you in Watopia.


I see things the opposite to you and think that Zwift have got it pretty much like it is in real life.

You state that you go off in a group then get detached before getting into another group that comes up to meet you.
That’s real life. I’m guessing you are flying out the pen and getting amongst riders of a better calibre than yourself. It’s how my races go.

I eventually find a group of my ability.

I’ve seen people break away from the blob and stay away and likewise with smaller groups. I’ve accelerated away from a blob with a mile to go and stayed away and other times I’ve been caught.

I get dropped on hilly races but that’s because I’m a heavier rider and know my limits.

Likewise on a decent it’s clear that there are advantages for others.

I’ve used RGT, I’m not a fan of the cornering but I think that’s because I’m so used to Zwift. For me RGT needs to offer a more visible sign that pedalling is disabled.

Drafting was tweaked a while back and I think it’s best left as it is.

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Riders with steering control can’t go through others riders, but they have steering control. It would be very unfair on others to do that.

The forthcoming Uber pretzel event is rumoured to also be testing updated drafting. So it is something they do look at.

And you can get back into a blob. It hurts but it works. But sometimes you have to be honest with yourself and drop back.

And when a group is about to split, it can be wiser to help others at the back bridge back in to keep the group large. mid-race. The smaller it gets the more likely you’re the one that gets shelled out or burn the power you were hoping to save for later.

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Thanks for getting back Stuart! But I have to say your experience of real life racing is nothing like mine of you think Zwift is pretty much like it is in real life!

People get back onto the back of the peloton in real life all the time and groups go away and get caught and there are splits and it’s always changing. That just doesn’t happen in A cat races on Zwift. There is one point when zwift is like real life and that’s when the pro peloton enters the final 3km on a sprint day and the whole group is going full gas!

To be fair, I have seen people go across groups in my son’s D and C cat races but in A races I’ve never seen it.

Anyway, if the drafting changes I’d be very happy but I’ll still keep enjoying Zwift racing because after all, isn’t real life!

All the best.

I don’t think the draft dynamics are terribly different to real life races, it’s the tactics that are.

You are right about real life races, but in real life the sense of speed is different, the state of your competition is more observable, you may have friends or even teammates to ride with, the wind direction mixes things up. I also think too few people are used to the tactics of a break away in Zwift, so the attackers too often have to go alone whilst everybody holds pace thinking they’ll fall back, which they do, and it re-enforces the tactic.

In Zwift your in almost in a velodrome time-trial, just with other people; or a group FTP test, the pace is always high. I don’t think the drafting is too strong for breaks to form, if anything it’s too weak to enable you to rest in the peloton for the next attack, the attacks are therefore too weak. In real life an attack is a sprint, in Zwift it’s about 1 extra w/kg

Here’s some data from a successful attack at the Tour of Flanders, whilst the first hour was a 302w effort, with >200km the break away effort was 1,370W (19.02 W/kg). Most Cat A riders can ride at 302w for an hour, but who is putting in a max sprint effort to break away, nobody…

I’ve never been nor will I ever be a Cat A rider so I guess I don’t know what goes on up front.

I guess in Zwift people are more tempted to try things. If you make a break and it doesn’t pay off then whatever. In real life you are under more pressure, you’re got team mates, prize money etc… to think of.

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