Green Cone of Sandbagging

Today I participated in a ZHQ Crit City race with the Green Cone/Throttling category enforcement. This is how my screen looked a few minutes into the race:

With the understanding that this is in the testing phase, here’s my feedback.

  1. The green cone and throttling is doing little to dissuade people from entering the wrong race category.
  2. If racers are being slowed after getting coned, it’s not evident. The reduction in power/speed needs to be much greater.
  3. As you can see from the screen capture, I’m surrounded by coned riders. What are they doing? Are they throttled? Are they racing? The riders ahead who are not coned are getting away while I’m stuck in this pack of sandbaggers.
  4. Zwift race results show me finishing 44th. Zwiftpower results are currently showing me in 4th. None of the top seven riders on Zwiftpower finished anywhere near each other. Who am I racing against? These results look like a TT, not a crit.

Again, I know this is in beta, but I do not think that this approach is going to be effective. Racers need to be in the correct race category before the race starts.

Great recap @Gru, and I agree, much more needs to be done. This is a good step in the right direction however!

I wonder if people are entering the wrong category on purpose for these tests just to see what happens. Maybe they shouldn’t be called ZHQ Beta Races and be a bit more stealthy in their tests to avoid this.

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Yep, conduct a double blind study on Zwifters… :+1:

Until they actually start throttling power and/or speed it isn’t going to change people’s behavior. From the two videos I’ve seen so far it appears they have only implemented the green cone of shame so far, they haven’t started throttling outputs yet, so there is no “downside” to sandbagging currently.

Fingers crossed they start imposing the power/speed throttling soon so we can stop having these discussions and get back to racing fairly (or as fair is possible in a virtual world)

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Perhaps the ‘green cone of shame’ should result in a front wheel washout in a corner! :rofl:

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I vote for a mechanical and your team car is the last in the convoy making you wait 2-5 minutes depending where you are in relation to the peloton :grinning:

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I have been thinking about this and looking at these BETA tests. My guess is there are no throttling at this point.

It look like the test is only to see if they are catching the correct racers, because that is the hard part, so if they are to strict at least the rider can still get the position he deserve.

Once they know they get the correct guys they can just double their weight, as long as they go slower any number will be good.

Just my 2c

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Someone pushing 5 w/kg in a D cat race (we know they are out there) could still win even if they were cut down to 2.5 w/kg, I think they should be brought down to the minimum for whatever cat they are in, so in a D cat race they would go down to 1.0 w/kg and in a C cat 2.5 w/kg, etc…

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True, Mike,

I wanted to say as long as they go slower than the bottom of the Cat limit.

But I think throttling is the easy part.

Having the sand filter to the correct size is the hard part.

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Cones should be poo emojis surely :poop:

The video I saw had a person’s speed reduced by nearly 10 km/h but that isn’t really enough in many cases. Agree they should go down to the minimum w/kg of their category.

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So the lesson for those is to start sandbagging before the 5 minute mark? That is taking 20 minute levels and making new categories out of 5 minute power. Works on average but not those that have great 5 minute power. Seems more confusing than before. I’m a B racer with a high five minute power. I’ve never hit 20 minute A power, even in all out test efforts.
What are the five minute power levels?

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Eric Min got caught sandbagging! :rofl: :rofl: :rofl:

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some of his comments:

I got coned with about 25 meters to go. We’re testing the boundaries and edge cases.

There’s more work to do but it’s giving the right feedback.

One problem at a time! The weight one is tricky… I think at some point we will need to have races which require verification including confirmation of weight.

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You beat me to it @Mike_Rowe_PBR. LOL

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The formula is jacked and needs work. I got coned today as a B with 4.45 1min and 3.67 5min. Those are low B numbers at best. I shut it down to not impact the rest of the race as a ‘coner.’However those number will not even get you out of the pen with the As.

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Hi there everyone! My 1st post, I just have a quick question about this green cone with the white arrow. It appeared to me today at the very end of a race (last 500 mts, when I was pushing to gain some positions). I was racing in D category. At some point I moved 500-600 watts while doing the final sprint and the arrow appeared with a message. I didn’t catch the message 'cause I was trying to catch some oxygen! But now I’m worried about it, am I not allowed to race in D categories again? Is my power output going to de cut? I ended 55 out of 109, so I don’t really think I belong in C category just yet

Also suggest the sandbaggers not appear in the companion app post race. In other words they get filtered out just like they do in Zwift Power. If the sandbaggers can’t seem themselves in the top 10, 15, 20 whatever, they will give up and not race in the wrong group. It is about comparing oneself to others. Remove the gratification. One step to reducing sand bagging.

Bob

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Have you signed up at ZwiftPower.com ? Zwiftpower is the unofficial keeper of the “true” race results and will automatically categorize you in the propoer cat based on your past performance. If zwiftpower says you are a D cat, then stay in D.

based on the usual huge number of sandbaggers in cat D, you probably were in the front pack of the true D’s. Zwiftpower is the best resource for this information.

I think they should still be there but at the bottom with no time next to their name, so they don’t think something is wrong with the app.

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I’ve followed this beta test with much interest and quite honestly had some doubts if this was going to solve the sandbagging issues. Having tried a ‘traditional’ Crit race two days ago and the Beta equivalent today I thought I’d leave my experiences racing in both formats.

I’m a ‘light’ rider with mediocre 1- and 5-min power. My last season ended in Cat C. This season, I’ve been working my way up from mid-D after a period of inactivity towards bordering C to B. During this time my experiences racing in the traditional format have been rather varied. I have been in races where I could tell that my level was approaching (or exceeding) the top of D-cat, as keeping up with the front group was becoming rather easy (I am fortunate to have experienced this!). Time to Cat-up. Obviously the first couple of races in C ended up in either a relatively solitary ride or a struggle to hang with a group until the hammer comes. Slowly I was becoming more and more capable of hanging in C-groups and competing for the #1 position of my group (ie. ending up somewhere halfway in the field). This progressed until early this year I could actually enjoy racing the front group. However, at the same time I was approaching the Cat limit based on W/kg. The weeks hereafter, my FTP stably hovered in the 3.0-3.2 W/Kg range whilst my experiences were becoming worse. I had the feeling that I was left with two options: A) respect my mediocre 1 and 5min power output and aim for the 3rd or 4th group in the field straight from the Pen, finishing the race in the top 33%-50% range, or B) go all-out, hang in the 1st or 2nd group for as long as possible and get dropped 5-10min in the race, finishing in the top 33%-50% range. My feeling was that this was having to do with ‘heavier’ riders that were able to sit in the draft of higher-Cat riders, whilst I was lacking the absolute power to do this (let alone being able to increase my power on the hills). My frustration here was that any further improvement of my FTP would put me straight into the next Cat, where I would finish in the bottom 5% and get blown from all groups within 1min. In a more level playing field the heavier riders would need to do the pulling, giving me a better chance to keep hanging in the group (and possibly attacking on a hill or risk losing in the sprint).

So how did the Beta test work out for me? Would I have a chance to compete, or would I be nominated a cone myself?

Fortunately, my experience was very positive! After the traditional fast start I ended up in the 3rd-4th group and was able to settle myself here. I was sliding towards the back of the group on the flats and moving my way to the front on the short cobbled climbs. About 2 laps in it was clear that our group was competing for the ~30 position of ~140 riders. However, in the following laps we were slowly overtaking coned riders and continued to do so throughout the remainder of the race! Clearly, things were going in the right direction, which provided a good motivation to try and hang with the group. The last lap in we were competing for the top 10, which I believed was a realistic position for a lighter rider. Indeed, I think it is plausible that a group of heavier riders at the Cat limit could legitimately finish in front of the group I was in. To my surprise, Zwiftpower actually showed that the group I was in was competing for the podium! A couple of riders that finished in front were filtered out. Were these riders able to stay away despite being dialled down? Or could they have lacked the update that dials down the speed? Either way, this experience gives me enough reason to believe these measures will improve racing in Zwift.

My biggest takeaway, however, was not that I was able to compete for a podium finish (rightfully so, being at the limit of the cat). More importantly, comparing my time to the B-field suggests that I may now be able to hang in a group in B and compete for the top 67% rather than being dropped like a stone. I think this is a huge deal as it allows for a more natural progression through the Cats and provides an incentive to Cat-up and keep racing. If it is clear for coned riders that they are able to compete in the next Cat this may further enhance the racing experience for everyone (for comparison, the C-cat winner of my ‘traditional’ Crit race would have won the A-race).

I realize your mileage may vary, but perhaps sharing experiences of different rider situations could help with fine tuning. Long story short, well done so far and I’ll be looking forward to the implementation!

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