Race ranking discussion

This is I think the real positive outcome that “ranking” should deliver.

It has to be a completely different metric from user profile one.

You have that
You have your current “ranking”

You enter a category event … you are penned by category
You enter a ranking event (or series) … you are penning by rank. I think as I said that was the original vision of ZRL series to be a ranking series event , but it had a couple of issues . Firstly , It WAS based on category to start with , but more ciritically because it is TEAM focused it has proved way to difficult to maintain that division thing because teams are so transient and mixed up with joiners and leavers . In Individual ranking that is way easier … you cant join or leave yourself :slight_smile:… your ranking with stay with you ( in more tangible terms) .

If we could take the competitive ranking elements from the ZRL series and base them on “rank” not category a, nd the event series was individual not team I think we would have the basis of what this might look like .

Where it would get really interesting is when that is opened up to community organisations to rank and maintain there own races and race series (in particular) . .

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I suggested a long time ago that an interesting (IMO) and useful experiment would be to run a simple race ladder, same time every week, initially seeded by W/kg into ~30-person pens but then each week the winner of each race moves to the next higher race and last finisher drops to the next lower race. New joiners are initially placed by W/kg and if you sit out a week (or more), you stay in the same division when you come back. A range of courses would give chances for slightly different race outcomes (climb vs sprint etc) but no-one would be winning week after week (until they got to the top of the first division), and no-one would be DFL time after time either!


Think it should be similar if your regularly in the top 10 then you move up and if your always at the tail end you drop back a catergory.
I’m not overly bothered by which catergory im in having only done a few races but would be good to be competitive and amongst it, I’m generally a higher C but had 1 good for me FTP test which puts me at the bottom of B at 3.2wkg seems my average however I do struggle to match the riders and I just use it as a good workout to push myself.
To me there is a big jump between groups

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@Graham_Irvine_London , @_JamesA_ZSUNR exactly. There should be some traces left on my blog of me being excited by the (original) idea behind WTRL. The first season would be crap since W/kg as categorization would be hit or miss. But over time, with people moving up or down because of league results, it would start working.

But yes, the problem with people leaving and joining teams get in the way. I also didn’t like that only teams would benefit from this, that people who wanted to race but for some reason didn’t have or couldn’t join a team were left out. So I hoped ZRL would be the same but on an individual basis. It could have worked much better. But… here we are, still.

The third problem I like to point out is Zwift’s somewhat contradictory reluctance to take charge of the situation. They assimilate ZP etc but then they don’t actively try to shape racing but still leave it in the hands of the community. And the track record of that is horrible (the old Zwift vs ZP discrepancy, it just doesn’t work).

It’s great that race organizers are given a degree of freedom. It fosters engagement and creativity. But Zwift needs to be a better backbone in all of this. They should deliver a fair platform. And they can still keep an unfair platform beside it and then let people choose. But a fair platform to hand over to the organizers is an absolute must. It’s what UCI tries to do to cycling globally, via national federations. Zwift needs to be there, but it’s like they don’t care as long as it isn’t an elite event. They don’t see the sales potential in building a real sport with a strong grassroots movement because they are too occupied trying to poach customers off Peloton, slowly drifting away from cycling. It’s fine with me that Zwift doesn’t become a hardcore cycling platform but a general fitness/wellness/“funess” platform too, but can we please leave a bit of fair sport in this too? It’s such a strong driving force, for both conversion rates and customer lifetime value, i.e. to both attract and keep a happy, healthy subscriber base.

What I mean is that, sure, you will attract some customers by showing the butts of fitness models in TV commercials. But if word gets around that Zwift is also a thriving sport… that is a strong driver. How can you miss out on that opportunity?


I think the consensus should be that results-based ranking should be used to seed people into rank-based separated categories for larger events.

For smaller events (say under 50 people), hard to say if we really should have categories, and certainly (Crit City events as the exception) should never have separate starts if you do have categories.

Allowing event organizers some tools to automate those decisions would be nice.


If you support the use of a race ranking results based system in one form or another do you wonder:

Why ZwiftPower has a race ranking system in place ZwiftPower - Login based on and almost exactly the same as the USA Cycling model USA Cycling Rankings FAQ - USA Cycling and it appears to just be sitting there in the back ground doing nothing?

Is this race ranking system almost fit for purpose, possibly just needs a little refining?

Has Zwift any intention of incorporating a race ranking system in the future?

I don’t mind helping contribute towards the introduction of a race ranking system but I see no point if it is not on the short term 1-2 year horizon in Zwift’s racing plans.

there’s no way a ranking system could work. there’s so many obvious holes in it that might not show up in theory but become very obvious as soon as you apply a bit of practical thinking

a ranking system assumes everyone who enters a race does it with one purpose: to win the race or place as highly as possible. unlike a real race, which requires money, travel, and purpose to enter, zwift races are very often just used as a training tool. today i’m riding the KISS 100, i’m an A so i’ll enter as an A, but i’m going to sit up and drift back to sit on the back of the Bs because i want to do 3 hrs in z1 and maybe i have to do about 15 mins of tempo up the climbs too while maybe chatting some BS and watching the cycling on eurosport.

incidentally, that’s a 3 hour long race. a 3R laguardia sprint race is 4km and takes a few minutes. how are you calculating the value of those of those races into your ranking system? field quality, and the intentions of the other riders who are entering those races? even at the highest rankings, not everyone enters a zwift race intending to compete or even finish it

it assumes that every race has an equal physiological cost, time cost, and mental cost. they don’t. games that use rank almost always have matches that are generally the same length, require the same mental investment whether you’re a beginner or a pro, and the same physical cost

if anyone can come up with an algorithm that even begins to account for any of this then their talents are wasted on zwift

even games like CoD and apex, or simpler yet chess, games where you just sit in a chair and think rather than physically exert yourself, have casual unranked lobbies which are used by pros and beginners alike to practise their skill or just go through the motions of training with minimal mental pressure


Early on in the ZRL project I did ask WTRL if they were going to extend it back into an individual based event at some point and got a fairly blunt NO , . If I wanted that I should look elsewhere .

That elsewhere so far is not being allowed to happen because Zwift I think put all racing eggs in that one basket. Hopefully as things are developed and moved on there is now an opportunity for other organisations to benefit from better integration tooling to be able to do what I think you @Andreas_Traff and I have visioned . (And others too of course) .

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A crude points-based system wouldn’t cope with this well. But there’s no reason why a properly-implemented system couldn’t do so. You wouldn’t get demoted on a single performance like that in any reasonable ranking system. There are loads of ways to deal with that properly - e.g. ignoring results that seem to be way off a user’s best. Maybe looking at HR data.

Just because a bad ranking system wouldn’t work, doesn’t mean that a good ranking system couldn’t work.

Ranking on its own is not a drop in replacement for Performance metrics. Which is what I think you might be trying to suggest and of course that is not how it should or would work.

Ranking makes much more sense in a race league context I think rather tht for adhoc indiviidual events ( but I think it still makes sense there too … as an option and different way of running events) . Wont go into detail here ) as I think first we need to get the discuss away from this being about replacing or replicating a pre-race allocation system with a post race (or races) adjustment system.

I wont post a massive reply on each point but lets take the scenario of not entering to win and “deliberately” underperforming to reduce your rank . Firstly that IS a legitimate bike racing strategy. If you dont want to win a series (tour) but concentrate on a stage win you might loose time so you are allowed to break away in the stage you want to win because others are not interested in your win , you dont count . So what are we doing here with Ranking , bringing in more race strategy not less and thats a good thing isnt it .

If this is just a one off race you decide to cruise on … then you are not affecting the race at all , so no one will care a hoot you are just cruising around . There are plenty strategies and options to address the abuse of this , simplest of which would make it easier to move up ranking that to move down ( perhaps we COULD set as is the case in pro racing a time limit to finish to get a ranking adjustment at all of course , ) .

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well there’s another hole in that. in a previous KISS 100 race i decided to do a 5 min max test in the middle of it, off the front of the peloton. after that, i was dropped because as with all max tests, you are cooked for a good while afterwards. later in the race, once recovered i decided to do a couple of efforts and hit a huge 1 min PR. i finished 4 mins down on the leaders but hit far and away the highest numbers in the category and my HR data resembled near enough exactly what it would have if i had just raced it normally. it’s not that simple

So you’re saying your power numbers were good but your finishing position wasn’t. What about the power numbers of those who finished around you?

You still seem to be assuming an incredibly crude ranking system rather than one that takes several factors into account for both you and those who placed around you, amongst other things.

Sounds to me like you want to only take part in the catefory enforced metrics race events . No problem with that .most of us will I am sure still take part in those sorts of events , only its pretty dull if thats the only way we are going to do things IMO . Others I think ( certainly me ) want some different sort of events with more depth and more options to racing beyond that .

Your critisims and arguments seems ot be trying to judge ranking on how well it can do something it is not aiming to do .

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if you go to the ZP leaderboard for the reverse KOM on the richmond course and look at p1 (edit: p2, ive been dethroned apparently) you can find the results sheet for that exact race yourself and come to your own conclusions about how well i could have placed in that race on that particular day

Out of interest, why would you enter races for this sort of training? Why not a group ride or pace partner?


In simple terms .Why bother

Your 20minus / VO2 / CP will set your category postioin.
Your finishing position will set your ranking position

Whats the problem with that , and why do you think they should somehow be exactly the same.
The point , for me anyway , is really they absolutely shouldnt !.

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well, one example… how do you train to beat other people in a zwift sprint if you don’t compete against other people in a zwift sprint? there are aspects to zwift racing that can only be learned by racing, even if it is not always at full intensity. maybe you just want to try something out, unrestricted by group watts, or learn how the dynamics of a specific course generally play out in a race situation. there are many reasons

Well if your winning an A sprint then you’re winning an actual A sprint and it’s a race, and if you’re winning a B/C sprint as training then you’re ruining somebody else’s actual race.

I’m well aware of how sprints go down, even in A, but I don’t ruin other people’s races to improve them.

There are plenty of people who sprint in Group rides and off the bots (me included) which get you the idea without messing with other people’s day.

Once again for that purpose , Seems like the category rank system is just perfect for you . ( for this purpose anyway). When I wanted that I would probably agree , enter a race which is grouped with people of same performance ( and with double draft switched on etc ) . No one here I think is suggesting we take that away . Perhaps at some point you might want to experience something different ., unless of course you are suggesting that its one way or the highway and only the events that fit the pre-allocation model are to be supported ?

i have never ruined another person’s race. well, i got a wkg dq once. in 551 events, which of course i apologised for.