I agree with what you say, in principle. There are actually studies on RL climbers showing that being small and light is not enough in itself to beat the heavies uphill. It doesn’t provide enough of an advantage. It’s being light in combination with excellent recovery, a certain profile, that is the key. They don’t just grind it out against the heavies in a climb, they torture them with tempo changes, accelerations, until the heavies can’t take it anymore.
But then you need to have excellent recovery to do what they (or you) are doing in the races and that doesn’t fall under ‘all else equal’. That falls under ‘deviant physiological profile’, to quote myself. Given an equal or similar fitness profile, the heavies will either hang in there or, more likely, you will be way too much on the limit to go for a push, let alone several.
Everyone knows it is more the 5 min performance that matters rather than the 20 min. Everyone who races frequently shift towards a punchier profile, if nothing else, if not intentionally, then by just racing. So getting better at recovery than the heavies is no easy thing. I’m convinced most people who say that’s what they did actually got a little genetic headstart. Because all else equal, the heavies will be just as good at recovery as you. Why wouldn’t they? Because of their weight? No.
But then there are these deviants, and maybe you are one. There is another light deviant in here, a rather vocal one, you know who, who mostly denies any disadvantage against heavies, or did so in the past anyway. Because he sprints the hell out of them. Light riders do have a faster acceleration, but then you need to back it up with raw Watts towards the latter part of the sprint or you will lack the terminal velocity for a win. But he can pull that off. He really can. Most light riders in Zwift won’t be able to, though, not even if they switch training regimen. All else equal you don’t easily outsprint a guy with thighs twice the size of yours, there’s just too much muscle to fight.
Now, you typically ‘sense’ the competitors’ weights in a race, and a light rider will try to gauge the weights around them early in the race. Although this little in-race weigh-in also gets blurred by some people using some rather cheap and dodgy smart trainers, making their physics behave differently and a bit deceiving. But otherwise the heavies are usually a little… heavy… in the small climbs (the climbs are generally small as we all know). And then they instead overtake you at the far foot of the hill, coming out of the descent like a cannonball, so the light rider can’t really rest downhill as much as others. But it’s kind of natural to a light rider to just keep going about as hard in the climb as on the flat right before, and that alone will strain the group a little, or at least it looks like it. Hah, you might think, get some! But part of it is just Newtonian physics. The heavies accelerate slower uphill. So it’s easy to fool yourself into thinking you’re doing damage. But then a few clicks before the finish comes the proverbial tempo increase. The heavies, especially the ones who don’t like to go orange throughout a race, the ones who race at a cozy pace, might not be anywhere near as exhausted as you might think. And that’s where the light rider gets dropped.