How the Peloton speed/cadence is "decided"?

after a couple of races im wondering how the peloton cadence is defined. it seems that there is always someone pushing but nobody seems to be the one pushing :stuck_out_tongue:
how do this works? is a self assemble of people exchanging the lead position?
i tried to push harder after being in the peloton and noticing that the power was quite low. 10km to the finish, i decided to push more power. the peloton didnt come with me and about 5km to the finish they caught me. so at least for this test , pushing didnt work very well…ehhehe

This (pack dynamics/speed) has been an interesting topic of late. Search the forums for pack dynamics 4.1 and 4.1.1 threads, if you’re interested (do so at your own risk :smile: ).

Currently, we are in PD 4.1.1. What the case was before was that, due to a quirk in Zwift physics, we had the “churn” or “washing machine” effect. Essentially, this means that if everyone is putting out roughly equal power, riders not in the front row would be able to get a boost from the draft and gradually come shooting out the front. Once they hit the wind, their speed slows, but they are now providing draft to the people behind them, who come shooting through, who now provide draft… and so on. This drives up pack speeds, without anyone really having to do any extra work. Thus breakaways were very doomed unless they were really good. Even low-power packs could overtake single riders fairly easily.
The goal of PD 4.1 was to reduce this churn, which it did. This slowed down pack speeds, giving breakaways a chance of success. But this made things feel “unnatural” for many (though it theoretically was more consistent with the IRL idea of not being able to physically ride through the person in front of you). So Zwift chose to find a “middle ground” with PD 4.1.1, though some argue it is very similar to PD 4.1. Zwift Insider’s tests report that it is about middle ground, but from what I’ve seen people are experiencing a lot of the churn now.
I personally haven’t been riding or racing on Zwift a lot the past few weeks so my understanding may not be perfect, but this is what I think is the case.
For further reading and potential banging your head against the wall (plz don’t :sweat_smile: ):

Ohhh …yha is a lot, will definitely read it :slight_smile:
I’m interested to learn how/why some pish very hard in the begining and isolate withe the small Peloton and how this basically defines the speed of the race .
thanks a lot

This is all very interesting, thanks for the links.
i was wondering a bit more on how the peloton itself is formed. what is the main attribute to reach a steady Watt or km/w. Is it the first rider that pushs and who wants to be around needs to push as well? it seems that everyone knows that is better to stay with the group to save watts, but how much of a “delta” Wattage one needs to put higher than the peloton in order to have a sustainable advantage and push in? any thoughts?

If I understand your question correctly, the pace of the group is generally decided by just how hard people want to push and by the type of race. In Zwift races, after a general explosion at the start, the pace will settle after a few minutes. It probably is the case that the peloton forms behind the rider(s) who get the farthest ahead off the line. This is because pack speeds make it so if you’re not with the peloton, you have no chance of winning; thus, everyone pushes to stay with the riders that get in front. Then, as people tire or the group starts to form, the speed will begin to stay consistent according to the pace of those shooting forward.
However, points races (where segments are the most important) often will start a bit more tame, with a group forming at a potentially slower pace (or about the same, since you don’t have to work as hard if your speed is being increased without additional effort).
To stay ahead of the peloton, you would have to be putting in a LOT more watts. However, in practice, you have to put out even more than that because if you break away close to the finish, the pack might decide to chase you. Then the pack is moving even faster, and unless you are close enough to the line, they will almost certainly catch you.
It is still possible to break away, though, and I like to try to do it, even though my chances of it working are slim. Otherwise the race ends in a group sprint. My sprint is bad, so I like to break away on hills (where the pack is moving slowest) right before the finish to give myself a shot at winning. It has yet to succeed, but it is always fun :smile:
In fact, you can use the draft speedup/churn to your advantage. If you move to the back of the group right before your attack point, you can start your attack in the draft and then slingshot forward with your extra speed. This can be done in points races for getting a boost to try and win the segment.
Fortunately there are a few exceptions, like long races, to these scenarios, that can shake it up a little.

Do note, though, that I haven’t raced with PD 4.1.1 yet, so I’m not sure how much this effect has/has not been changed compared to PD 4.0 or PD 4.1.
And yes, they are very long threads. :sweat_smile:

Thanks Hans, keep trying and let me know when you succeed :)/
after reading about the new 4.1 i thought that the slingshot effect isnt possible anymore and that is harder to overtake the first of the pack as before.
in my case, as noob, i was chasing the pack in my first races and puting a lot of “extra” power. Due to that, i was upgraded relatively quickly with only few races where it was competitve. luckely i found the cat split races…it seems that are the ones where the groups are more even…