Improving Race times

Hi everyone,

Reasonable newbie to bike racing, however I’m a pretty fit guy and competitive as I fight kickboxing professionally. There is obviously some smarts to racing I don’t understand. My last race I literally worked bit but off and keep my power rating higher then I ever have and thought I was going to die. Lol
I registered with zwift power and I can see I came 11th in C class, but I had a higher average power rating then everyone. I thought this was what you had to achieve.
I am still happy, just would love some advice from all these machines out there.
Hats off too everyone tough sport. !!! results

You are off to a great start! Power output is important, but consider other factors: the gear selection will help… pick the right bike for flat vs hilly routes, but don’t use a TT bike that cannot draft. Speaking of draft, you have to draft effectively as this will save energy. However, unless you are in the lead peloton or the peloton ahead of you is hopelessly distant, you may need to help pull to get the group moving faster. The goal is to close the gap with the group ahead of you as this is a team effort, and then attack to join or pass the group. It’s a great feeling to be in a group you are trying to beat, but also working together and closing the distance to the group ahead of you. If everyone is relying on you to do all the pulling, try to break away because they’re a boat anchor to you. Use items effectively … don’t use the feather going downhill, aero uphill, etc.

Also, don’t get dropped. Either push to get back in the draft or fall back to the previous group, if one is near.

Join early and start strong to try to be in one of the front groups.

Really, I guess it’s about smart power usage… good luck!

Awesome Brian, thanks for that great amount of information. Sounds like there are many little tricks to look at.
Legend I’m going to try a couple of things there next race.

Cheers is the best; search for “racing tips”


That is a good start in racing, keep an eye on your Zwift power profile, you might be B cat very soon. Nice solid power.

Hi Gerrie,

Thanks for the info, I am trying to Choose the class by my watts per kg is that correct.
A short time trial race maybe about 3.9 -4.0,
But a longer race about 3.3-3.4. Does this sound right and what you should look for.
Or am I meant to be looking at the power reading itself.

Great thanks a lot, perfect info there. :+1:

Zwift power use 95% of your best 20 minute power during the race to determine your category, they take the average of the best 3 in the last 90 days.

If you click on your profile in ZP you will see you current category.

You are welcome, thanks to @Eric_Schlange_ZI!

Hey @Anthony_OConnell

I was also in this race funnily enough.

Looking at the C grade results on ZP it looks like you’d get a better result in that particular race if you trained your sprint a bit (first place and yourself were only a few seconds apart). That comes down to technique as well as power training just like practicing a kick or punch does.

I also notice your normalised power is not green but people around you had green. This means your power was fluctuating more than the people in your group. This saps the legs. So if you find yourself yo-yoing up and down the group or attacking off the front with no benefit then try to stop that and your legs will be fresher for the sprint or decisive moves.

Try to stay near the front but not with your face in the wind unless you are trying to jump to the next group (which is hard to do) and don’t bother jumping to the next group solo if your group is going to get there eventually without you.

Hi Ben,

Thanks a lot for your in-depth response.
I tried the start a bit better and felt that helped a bit tonight.
However I have another question, my Zwift power profile which I was told to watch has me classed B grade now. But the last two races I am literally getting smoked bad in B grade. I feel like I’m definitely a C grade racer at the moment not B. Should I just keep trying B Grade as my Zwift power category is telling me or just go in C Grade. I feel like I’m not even getting a chance to get cover in a pack in B grade as they just pull away.
Thanks again

Join the category that ZwiftPower has you in, or you will be DQ’d in the ZwiftPower results.

This is a common complaint and leads to the larger issue of sandbagging. You feel you can’t be competitive in the B cat so you join C and always come in at the front of the group because you are stronger than the rest of the field. Others in cat C get frustrated so they join cat D and blow apart the race… its a vicious cycle.

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Thank Mike,

I was thinking as much, I’m not too fussed about actual finishing positions. More trying to race in a pack with riders of my ability and see how the times go, so happy to move up to the B grade I have just been graded in.
It’s just quite frustrating I simply can not work out how they have the watts/per kg so high for so long and can ramp up really high.
I’m in pain half the time trying to hold power around 250-270w for 30-45 mins, yet get passed like I’m standing still ha ha.
However it’s all a bit of fun in a new sport which I’m loving.

Thanks buddy :slight_smile:

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Hi @Anthony_OConnell

The good news is Zwift is working on a Sandbagging solution, once that is rolled out things will change.

Keep riding in B once the Sandbaggers green cone start working you will be a mid pack B racer, because all the top B’s will be moved to A where they should be and the top C’s will be moved to B.

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This really needs to be done by Zwift properly, I participated today in Trofeo Bologna race, I have chosen D category as this is the one I officially have on Zwiftpower as well. I was disqualified on ZP for pushing more wkg than allowed, it was the first time I was able to push 2,8 wkg in a “longer” race (I have about 20 seconds better time than the winner on ZP so I’m right on the edge between C and D cat), which I’m quite happy about as it shows some improvement. Next time I’m definetely ready to race in a higher cat. The whole point is that officially I was 105th in the race and still ended up being disqualified so the issue of sandbagging seems to be major problem of Zwift racing.

In that case race B. The start is key. Make sure you get there early if there are loads of people so you are near the front. Then the take off should be like a mini sprint. Try to make the front group but sit down before the legs burn. Pick the group you are in and stick to it. Like I said you should train your sprint as this helps at the start and at the end. Don’t try to move up groups during the race unless there are exceptional circumstances. You can record your race so you review your decisions or put it up on YouTube for commentary. That might help.

Hi Jan,

That’s exactly how I was feeling too. As I have only just started 4 weeks ago riding indoors my improvement each race was quite big as you get hang of racing on a smart trainer. This was a penalty on zwift power as you achieve better then what you expected.
However like you I feel this step up is big, but I like the idea of the sandbagging and I too will just stick it out and look forward to only small improvements now from myself.
Hopefully the sandbagging thing helps out.

Not sure if anyone races outdoors as well, but are the grades the same or completely different too zwift racing. I’m going to look for some outdoor events once this crazy virus is done.
Any advice would be awesome. :grin:

Hi Ben,

What a great idea recording, would love some advice from you Pro’s :+1:
That would help figure where I’m going well and where I’m going wrong