Help me understand the race within the race

Noob here. I dont understand the sub-races that happen within races. For instance, when I am in a race, a banner shows on the left that there is some time trial, a sprint or a loop. It seems that these have distinct start and stop points within the race, and my time is shown against others in the race. It is never clear to me when these time trials start or stop, I think it has something to do with the banners. But I cant see any indication on the screen that I am in the middle of one, and I cannot see any markers on the maps (like in Zwift Companion) as to where these races-within-the-race occur. They also are not even in the race descriptions!

It feels like there is a secret that others know that I am not in on - (many things in Zwift feel this way when you are new to it BTW)

Hi Chris

Think of them as best times between two points - either up a mountain (KOM) or in a sprint. They are indicated by a green dotted line on the road and marker and end with a red line and marker. You’ll get familiar with them as you ride around. The box appears on the left when one is coming up.

People use them either in free rides or in group rides, where a group leader might say “drop behind me if you want to sprint” and then some sprint to better their times and some just keep riding and the group comes back together.

So they’re not really a race within a race like a Grand Tour points jerey or KOM. If you are racing, you’re best off ignoring them and worrying about your race.

Have a look at this guide on ZI for more explanation.

I’m sure others will do a better job of explaining it than I have but come back to us if you have any more questions.

Thanks Paul. To be honest Ive never seen a green or red line but I cant say I look at the screen every second. These seem like fun, but I just wish I was able to know when they were coming up (when the window pops up, I still dont know how close the start is). Im just curious why there are not markers on the map, or any info in the race description about these? Also cant find results anywhere after the race - for instance I did Crit City recently and there were some fun sprints but after the race the results were nowhere to be found.

On crit city there is a “prime” section after the little rollers on the bell lap, this is a short timed segment in crit city, but doesn’t really mean much during a race. The main start/finish banner will show your lap time around the entire route. Zwift stores your best time for 30 days. If you are connected with strava, you will find many segments and can keep track of your personal best, strava doesn’t expire after 30 days, they are lifetime PRs.

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While you can ignore the KOM and sprint segments on the course during a race you should also keep an eye out for them (or learn where they are) as some races will provide power-ups as you pass through the archway which indicates the end of the segment.

For example, at the end of each Crit City lap you get a power-up. But you don’t get one at the top of the prime hill climb. A feather power-up reduces your weight and you should use that on the hill climb. A time trial helmet reduces your drag so use that if you need to close a gap. A truck power-up improves your drafting ability, use that if you want to take a rest behind someone else’s draft. A plus sign gives you extra XP points and is a useless annoying power-up that drives me crazy. Part of being a good Zwift racer is knowing where these power-ups appear on each course and how to best use them.

You are right in that the sprint and climb sections show up on a regular ride but do not show in an event or in a workout mode. After a little practice, you will start to see the light for the start point and see the finish too. But, you still won’t get the estimated time to the finish line, like the one on the volcano climb, for example. Usually, you may have a better time during a race than in practice. It just adds a little bit of interest to the race.