Neutralized Race Starts

It seems that this has been mentioned in some archived threads, but I’d like to suggest it again, a method for race organizers to choose to have a neutralized race start for the lead in, as many races seem to have very long lead ins (or to a customizable point per organizer’s preference)

I can see two good ways of doing this, the first would be a fence at the W/kg of the category, and you must be behind it at the starting line. The other, would be to use the same bunching/rubber banding as with group workouts until the start line.

Agreed… I am not sure a “lead in” makes any sense if everyone goes full gas from the start. Might as well be on the course from the start if it is full gas all the way.


The lead in’s are one of the worst aspects about Zwift racing I think. If the race is 40km, tell me there is 7km before the actual start! Also I would like to know the race is actually a full gas 47km. The TT’s with lead-ins are almost comical.

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I don’t mind them as much with the TT, because I know it’s a bit harder to neutralize that section, but they are still very frustrating.

I’ve had races with shorter distance on the course than the lead in…

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The word “lead it” is probably not the best word choice, the “lead it” is just a way to tell you that you are on your way to the place from which multiple laps will start.

Al races start at the start banner.

but Zwift have to somehow get you to the “start position” or the selected route. Like if you want to race laps around the volcano then you have to get there so there is a short “lead it” or “bonus road” or “lets get there” portion.

This could actually be a lot of fun, but at what speed does the fence move, because it is w/kg and what is the weight of the fence. Two riders with different weight will travel at different speed on a flat road if they hold the same w/kg.

I’d average the participant weight to get the speed. Otherwise just build up to a set speed.

“lead in” while logical as it is the lead in for the laps, but it’s frustrating during the race as you can’t also see the total distance as much when you’re racing the entire “lead in”

My suggestion is just another way to get from the pens to the start of the first lap

I don’t mind them as much with the TT, because I know it’s a bit harder to neutralize that section, but they are still very frustrating.

Or they could just make the TT’s their stated length. :joy:

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Every single real world race I have been in the racing starts when the flag drops and yes, that means people start sprinting of the start line to get up to speed (and drop the stragglers who can’t clip in) instead of casually rolling off the line at 200w like you’re on a Sunday cruise.

I really don’t understand why some people expect to spend 5km or more just rolling along and not racing in a race.

There is no real world equivalent. Yes, the Tour de France has a neutralized section at the start but this is for only a few kms out of a stage that might be 200km long and is only done to allow the convoy of cars and motorbikes to properly form and to get safely out of some of the small and narrow towns they start in. Neither of these are a concern on Zwift.

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There could be an automated calculation for speed, based of the mean (average) height and weight for the starting riders of that category, then set at the guideline for that category.

Example: The A riders in the pen have an average weight of 70 kg (154 lbs), average height of 183 cm (6 ft), and a (Zwiftpower) category requirement of 4.6 w/kg (and 300 watt ftp). Say that on the most basic Zwift bike, this “rider” would go 40 km/h at that 4.6 w/kg mark (70 * 4.6 = 322 Watts).

Now, nobody really wants to ride a neutral section at that effort so knock it down to a generally accepted Zone 2 (range provided by Dr. Andrew Coggan 56-75%) 322 * .655 (watts * the middle of the Zone 2 range) =~211 watts or about 3 w/kg. This in theory, could be set at whatever (hopefully sub-threshold) zone that the race organizer would like.

The fence could then assume the velocity of that calculation to give a reasonable and controlled neutral section to the official start of the event, with an Auto DQ (or cone of shame) for anyone advancing further than 10 meters in front of the fence, to discourage blatant attacking the fence as the group approaches the start.

I was thinking about a set speed per category (A’s-40 km/h, B’s-35, etc.) but then I realized that would only work on a flat neutral section. Should the road drop or climb, there could be serious issues that would not work.

This might not be perfect, but much better than the free for all that we have now. Also if you think about an IRL neutral start, riders efforts will vary to go the same neutralized speed. One rider could be in the wind, another on the bumper of the com. car. One rider could have tires with a low Crr, another rider could have tires with a high Crr., what a big sprinter has to do versus a skinny climber, etc., but the point is that the riders have a fair opportunity to reach the REAL START of the event.

To your point, then why not just say "x"km lead-in, “y” km race for a total distance of x+y, and timing of the event starts at KM 0? OR just Timing start from the pen and the actual racing distance is “x”. It really annoys me to sign up for a 40 km race and have a surprise 12 km lead-in. The easy answer is just say it’s a 52 km event in the registration.

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Either you are totally confused or I am. The race starts from the pen. The “lead in” is simply the route to where the laps start. Think of the starting gate as the start. Pay no attention to “lead in”.


A better solution is to just ditch the “lead in” terminology entirely.

Race from the gun.

It’s pointless to have a 5km lead in to then race n laps of a circuit. Why bother? Many real world races have a road stage part before a multiple lap finale, but no one expects the “lead in” road stage to be anything but a real race (Tour de France final stage notwithstanding).


That’s what a lot of races would remain as, but I can imagine that some would prefer to have a neutralized section, I know I’d rather race one with a lead in neutralized (thus my suggestion), the other thing is that it would allow for Kerin style racing, with a paced lead in followed by a shorter all out sprint (like some races are theoretically now in the one lap LaGuardia loop)

I think you responded to the wrong person @Evan_Harris started this. I was just running with the topic.

What purpose does it serve? I understand the purpose in real world races, but I don’t see the point in a virtual race.

Especially given that in a real world race you can’t start riding before the race starts, but on Zwift you can.

It’s my warm up when I’m too lazy to wake up on time to warm up :wink:

So no purpose then. :stuck_out_tongue:

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Zwift needs or should initiate a neutralized start for all race events. I think it would be very doable. During the lead-in portion of the event put up the gate. This would essentially act like the commissar’s vehicle at the start of UCI races. This would definitely add to the realism of Zwift races and would make that starts a level playing field

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To make races more like what you would experience IRL, a neutralized and software enforced max speed should be implemented for the first 2-3kms. With the recent introduction of auto power limiting of flyers, this should be an easy to implement. As it stands, those who can whack out huge power for a minute are the only ones to survive the start of a race. Perhaps those organising races could be allowed to set them up to include an optional neutral zone. Currently all a Zwift race is is a full duration threshold or tempo ride.

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