First Race, first Drop

I am new and tried a race for the first time. Level C. My FTP is 187, I am 6’1" and 150 lb. Riding over 300W (which of course I cannot maintain) I could not hang with any pack.

What am I missing? Am I really y in the lowest category? Or are the races so sandbagged as to be useless for people like me?

Turbo type trainer, speed/cadence sensors.



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First of all, make sure you’re not riding on a time trial bike as they cannot draft.

Secondly, with a FTP of 2.75w/kg you’re not going to hang with the lead pack. I have an FTP of 3.1w/kg and I can’t even do it. When the lead pack is doing 3.5 to 4.0 w/kg then the yes, the races are so full of sandbaggers (usually at least a quarter of the field will be riding at a level above the C category limit of 3.1) that it is near impossible for any genuine C rider to finish with the front group.

My only advice is to not try to hang onto the lead group. All you will end up doing is blowing up. Accelerate hard at the start and ride hard for the first minute or two (races always start fast and you don’t want to get left behind) but then quickly settle into a pace you can maintain for the whole race. You should then be able to find a group of similar ability who you can ride with.

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Thank you for the suggestions.
I am thinking Zwift racing is not for me. Perhaps I will try it again, maybe when there are more riders. There were 25 in this one and they all blew by me…
I guess I could try level D…
The bottom line is I am going to give up on Zwift if I find it discouraging. Or maybe stick to training and group rides.

Thanks again


Please do, it is fun and can push you way past your comfort zone and help increase your fitness! Also, have you registered on ? Zwiftpower filters out all the sandbaggers and shows the true results. Hopefully Zwift makes some changes soon and stops allowing people to enter into the lower cats.


And for racing, try the big Zwift sponsored events like TDZ. With 400 riders and your 2.75 W/kg should allow you to hang in a friendly groupette somewhere in the middle of the pack.

Keep racing.
You will learn how the race develops and it won’t be so bad.

Please do not race in group D.
That would be cheating and that would make you part of the problem.

People who enter a lower category then ride above the category limits are CHEATERS.
But, your racing FTP is different than you Zwift FTP.

The Zwift FTP is a 20 min max effort.
in a 1 hour race, you won’t hold the 20 min max for 60 min.

A third party racing stats site, Zwiftpower, keeps track of your actual racing efforts and assigns riders to the proper category based upon your top 3 efforts.

Keep racing! After many years using Zwift I did my first race a month ago and was surprised to be lapped on the Crit City circuit in Cat D. Then I saw the results and realised that all of the top 10 were at least Cat B and 6 of them had no HRM. I registered on Zwiftpower and now I just use that to give true results. I vary between Cat C and Cat D according to Zwiftpower depending on how tired I am and I just race in the Cat it puts me in. I find it hard to hang with a group but always find one or two riders like myself to ride with. Now that I can spot and ignore the cheats racing has become quite addictive.

I used to get annoyed at cheaters on the group rides but now I just put them out of my mind. There are still some odd things going on, for example on the TdZ stage 6 group ride this morning I started the Libby Hill climb in 250th place but by the time I reached the top I was in 310th place! I’m not a bad climber but riders were streaming past me. Again, Zwiftpower will filter these riders out.


Thank you for all the advice, I am obviously still learning. I have no intention of racing in a category that I am not supposed to be in! So I will not race Cat D if that is the case.

I will look into Zwiftpower.

I was not wearing my HRM, how does that factor in?



Well, You may very well be able to race in Cat D.
That was the point I was trying to make.

You “work out” FTP is an absolute MAX effort that makes you want to puke when you are finished after 20 min.
You won’t be able to hold that level X 60 min.

The Zwift Power site assigns you to a category based upon your actual racing performance.

Unless you do 20 min Individual Time Trial races, it will most likely be lower.
So then you race the category you are assigned.

Zwift Power take 95% of your max 20 min power during a race then average your best 3 races in 90 days to calculate your Category.

That should be the same as doing a FTP test where 95% of you 20 min block is used.


Same problem for me. Got blown away at my first race (tour de Zwift 5). I am a D rider, up to 2.4. Well for the first 10 minutes that I lasted I was way over that limit. So how does this work. The verbiage says up to 2.4 and I got blown off the back doing 3.5 until I could not longer hold on. Not a great first experience to say the least. Thanks, Curt

The average Tour de Zwift race in D cat had more than 50% of the participants mis-categorized, and less than 20% of the riders registered on ZwiftPower and racing in the designated category. A typical result for me would be crossing the line 30th or 40th in a group of 80 or 90, and end up in the top 5 on ZwiftPower.

This said, a 20-min race (like most TdZ stages) will not be done at the 2.49 W/kg category limit - you should expect the (legit) winners will be at 2.6 average, meaning the start and some of the climbs require 3.5 W/kg efforts, and the “easy” parts around 2.3-2.4.