Likely Dumb Question from a Racing Newbie

Just starting to race and finding a competitive element hugely beneficial to my “training”.
Looking at results in Zwift Power (and what a chore setting that up was!), I notice examples of some riders of a similar height/weight beating me by loads even though my power stats seem much stronger eg…
Height (1.88 vs 1.77 (me))
Weight (both 88kg (yes, I’m trying to lose it!)
Watts (2.03 vs 2.48)
Watts per kg (2.3 vs 2.8)
Normalised power (2.16 vs 2.48)

In the example above I was over 4 mins behind in a 40 min race.

Not calling foul - but interested if I’m missing something - eg:
Does Drafting make that much difference?
Is Bike used that important?

Any advice appreciated!

Drafting will make a big difference if they are able to hang onto a faster group and thus create a large gap.

The normalised power above suggests a big push at some stage in the race, probably to stay with a faster group.

One of the races I ran at the weekend, there was a guy a whole 1w/kg above 2nd place. (think winner was 4.7 and second was 5.7) which all came down to running in the group vs trying to break it.

Hi @Mark_Hughes2

Welcome to the forum and racing.

Yes, staying in the draft can save you a lot of power.

Yes. Don’t use the TT bike , MTB or Gravel bike. (except for races in the jungle)

yes, to the point that getting good and comfortable with it is the solution to all of your other questions

Many thanks - I’ll work hard on that!

Thanks for responding!

Great, thanks for that…!

good luck and enjoy… fundamentally it’s pretty intuitive once you get a bit of practise in. i like to think i’m pretty good at it, but after 500 races i still sometimes come across people who are far better at it than me

Height, weight, and bike choice will alter the in game physics/calculations but are mostly negligible. Weight is the most important of the three since w/kg drives everything in Zwift.

In a race, draft is a significant factor. Assuming you have the w/kg to ride in the group, draft is HUGE. As soon as you’re out the back, you’re typically not getting back on in a race. You’re solo or waiting for the next group.

Being efficient and staying in the draft is important too. You can see this in ZP when your w/kg is higher than others who finish around you, especially those ahead of you. They rode more efficiently in the draft while you were out of the draft and/or sitting on the front more often. The w/kg may seem small, but in terms of watts it adds up quickly. For example, I’m 73kg. 3.5w/kg is ~256w. 3.7w/kg is ~270w. A 14w diff for only 0.2w/kg diff.

Many thanks - it is clear I need to lose a bit (a lot!) of weight and ride smarter!
Thanks for taking the time to respond with such useful information!

The amount of times I have just lost the tail of a group and not been able to catch back up is huge. Stay in the pack at all costs. If you lose the draft you will spend many times more effort trying to rejoin the group than the extra effort required to stay with the group. As for weight, it depends on the type of course, the hillier the course the bigger factor weight plays. Go to zwift insider and in the search bar type “weight affects speed” and there is a very useful article (I have no idea how to successfully add links on here)

Yes - I have found the same! Still, I managed to burn a ton of calories, so it’s not all bad!