Race Start Sprint Starts-Risks and Reality

I enjoy Zwift Racing but why does every race start have to commence at maximum wkg out of the pen in order to stay in the pack? Is that realistic? What stress risks is that placing on our bodies?
Leaping out of the pen like a greyhound favours the warmed up quick starter and disadvantages those who may only have been able to join 5-10mins before or need time to settle in. I’m also not sure it is doing stress levels any good either as you run the risk of being dropped in the first 1k and being non competitive. Frustration and arguably added risk of injury, especially in chilly garages.
So how can it be more realistic?
Most social rides have a max speed fence to maintain control. So why can’t racing employ the same technique whereby a fence is on for the first x% of a race to let racers settle into a rhythm and be properly warmed up…like for real? Ergo more competitive for all?
Zwift should at least consider offering this type of race as an alternative?
For example, I have a B class 50k race tomorrow and I know if I am not at max 4wkg for the first 1-2k my race is effectively over.
Come on Zwift, give Fenced start racing a try?


Hi @George_Wiseman_RMACC

Welcome to the forum.

I would suggest making time to do a nice warm-up.

In the beginning I also thought racing start super hard but you get used to it. IF there is a lead in at a set pace then racers will do the same thing jump the second the lead in is over.

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Zwift racing is NOT IRL racing. Like it or not, this is just how e-racing works. So. As Gerrie stated, you should be sure to get in a good warm up ahead of time so that you’re ready to go from the gun. It’s not really much different than an IRL criterium, really.

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Yes, this is very normal. This is how races start in the real world. 1,000w sprint and if you don’t clip in fast enough or you can’t sprint then your race is going to be very lonely.

I saw a video a few weeks back of an amateur criterium race. Usually these start just like a Zwift race, flat out sprinting but they don’t have the advantage of being able to ride a virtual trainer on the start line. Anyway, in this case, due to Covid distancing the organisers neutralised the first lap. Do you know what happened after the flag dropped after the first lap? That’s right, 1,000w sprinting again.

And if you think this just happens in short races have a look at Stage 9 of the Tour de France this year. A nice neutralised start followed by a mad hour of constant attacks to try to form a breakaway. This was the stage that was so frantic that Fabio Aru was quickly dropped and ended withdrawing from the race.

If you think a fenced start will make things easier then here’s some things to consider:

  1. Let’s say it’s B cat, the fence will need to go at 3w/kg otherwise people will complain about being dropped behind the fence. When the fence clears do you think people will just calmly increase their speed to 4w/kg or do you think there will be a sprint to rip the group apart? My money is on the latter.

  2. The start pens are a lot wider than the roads. You might only be a few metres behind the start line in the pen but what about out on the road behind the fence? If it’s a big field of riders you could easily find yourself 50-100 metres behind the front of the race. What are you going to do when the fence drops, the lead group starts sprinting (and they will, make no mistake about that) and you’re giving away a 50-100 metre head start?


Maybe this will change a bit in steering races when collision detection is on. Blob will be longer and more narrow, perhaps smaller breaks and larger chaseing packs. Could change a bit.

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Thanks for the responses. I don’t think it would harm for Zwift to at least trial and canvas opinion on a fenced start option for racing, a bit like the GT neutral zone.

Leave time to warm up. Just make it part of your workout. I did a full 25 minute proper warm up yesterday before the ZRL and when everyone blasted out of the pen, I was able to much more easily stay at the front without the pain and frustration of jumping in five minutes before the start. BTW the stress you cause your body by not warming up is the real danger, not the fact that others go hard from the start. Even the most amateur of athletes going out for a friendly competition or workout know they must warm up to avoid injury. Indoor racing is no different.


I can’t think of any benefit of a neutralised start to races on Zwift, except for people who haven’t warmed up before hand. It would simply be delaying the inevitable and introducing a boring period at the start of every race.


This is the correct answer.

It’s not a general characteristic of eracing. It’s from Zwift “physics” where if ANYONE in a 100 rider pack decides to go hard, it forces everyone to go hard. IRL there’s only a few riders, those at the front, who are able to push the pace, Those at the back need to make a huge effort to reach the front first.

RGT for example has different physics where it takes a special effort to reach the front (moving up requires more power).

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