Simple sandbagging solution

Determine user racing categories by creating a function which returns a users highest 20 minute w/kg in the last 90 days. If someone does really well, they basically get “upgraded” to higher category in the future. The function can be run when browsing for races (at the same time gender validation is done) as well as when users enter a race (at the same time bike and equipment validation is done). There would be no need for in race checking. Even if a user hasn’t raced in a long while or is coming from their off season, they can work their way back up the racing category ladder. Zwift already has an in app lookup for “All time best 20 minute power” so that data is already there and it might not be a major coding effort.

I’m not so sure it is that easy.
What’s the definition of sandbagging and how is that different from saving energy.

In a race, I am usually below my 20 min FTP by choice.
Most races I do are 60 min.
I try to conserve as much energy as possible yet stay with the fastest group possible.
If it is a fast group, I just stay in the draft.
If I can go up front and pull without red lining, I will.
I try to have a good 15, 30, 60 sec bursts to help close gaps.

Just because I’m not pushing an Individual Time Trial effort does not mean I’m sand bagging.

That is exactly why we need a ranking system.

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Totally aggree - and it is a feasable solution 20 min is all zwift need to enforce the rules.
Its easy math…

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It is that easy Tim - because as soon as you accidentally reveal your highest 20 minute power average in order to win or place highly - you’ve leveled up and now you’re stuck competing where you belong. Everyone races below or nearby their ftp in order to save matches to burn and play strategy, but it’s the people who are averaging 5w/kg in Cat C who should be ashamed of themselves. And Zwift could easily accommodate your concerns while stopping these extreme and frequent cases.

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Agree. This has been suggested many times for many years.

I don’t know why Zwift is currently making this so complicated.

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There appears to be a possible solution that involves comparing a riders 5 min power to their 20 min FTP.
Sandbaggers tend to have a FTP that is significantly lower than their 5 min power.
This suggests that they are holding back and have plenty of power in reserve.
Now, we all do that to an extent, so the definition of sandbagging will be defined by some ratio of the 5 min power to FTP.

My FTP and 5 min power are pretty close, within 10%.
A sandbagger maybe up to 20% difference.

Its important to remember, sandbaggers are still following the rules.
They are gaming the system to their advantage and the game is evolving to encourage different behavior.
The new definition of sandbagging will still not address those that purposely enter into a race of a lower category.
That’s overt cheating.
Sandbaggers are not cheating. They are gaming.

Tim, your theory with max. 10% difference between FTP and 5 min power is wrong.
I am surely no sandbagger, my FTP is 250 (2.8 W/kg) and I am racing in C category (ranking somewhere…). My 5 min power is 300 - that is +20%. And I am and never was riding races IRL, just a fit old man.
I believe the difference will be even more by riders with more power.

It seems to be a work in progress.
Your ftp is 2.8 w/kg. (95% of max 20 min)
your raw watts for 20 min is 263.
The 5 min power is a raw number, not a percentage of it.
Your 5 min power is 300 watts or 3.3 w/kg.

So.
using raw watts 263/300 = 87% or 13 % variance.
using FTP 250/300 = 83% or 17% variance.

Just throwing numbers out there.
There is no data definition of sandbagging.

I think the answer is in there somewhere.
Your numbers seem to suggest you are a comparative rider who is pushing himself.
Your less than 20% for both.

A sandbagger is someone who has more cardiovascular reserve available but is not exerting themselves for the sake of winning.
That’s fine for Cat A or A+.

I’m not sure why it’s not OK for the other cats but people seem to feel it is less than honest.
I think the greater problem is people , whose race performance places them in a high cat, yet they still enter a lower cat.

Thanks for the reply and sharing your data.

The rule to enter a race is set by looking at your FTP and weight. So to be the best in your group you need to stay in the limit of the rule. There is no mention of 5min or 1min power so that should not effect where you are allowed to race.

It is like having a bike race and the only rule is you need to be under 25years old, but at the end of the race they tell you sorry you did not win because you used down-tube sifters. The rules should be clearly defined and adhered to.

So Zwift rule state a C riders FTP must be between 2.5w/kg and 3.2w/kg so why not just check that before the race start?

When you enter a real life race they ask your cycling licence and you can only enter the Cat on your license.

To be honest I am more irritated by racers that enter a race and finish above the cat limits.

Here are a good link to a cyclist power profile.