Watts per mile

Hi all
I’m new to Zwift.
My 12 year old son is racing on it to replace his cancelled BC season.
Anyway he’s a very strong rider on the tarmac but is getting beat on Zwift by kids who are lots weaker in real life.
I under stand Zwift basically calculates the power it takes to move a rider of X weight X distance at X speed by using you watts produced. So how does a rider producing less power bet you.
My lad raced C and hit 165watts and Said ride was D and pushed 127watt but beat him across the line.
We aren’t bothered but it doesn’t make sense so I’m looking to under stand how it all works.
Plus while I’m on why is there always people pushing twice the group average winning. Why doesn’t Zwift kick them like Zwift power does???

Did all categories start together or were they invisible to each other? Sometimes different cats do different number of laps so looking at finishing time isn’t useful.

Draft matters. Unless it’s a TT and everyone is on the same bike the average wattage isn’t everything. The bike you are on matters (make sure it’s a road bike not a TT). Staying in the pack will let you go the same speed for less effort so your average power will be lower than those that killed themselves flexing on or off the front.

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Your last question: that’s why zwiftpower exists, because zwift is useless at enforcing the category limits.


Ok that’s brilliant. We are getting better at drafting!
But how does 126w beat 165w over the same distance. We know the other rider and don’t have a problem with him winning but would like to understand how to achieve the same… surely 20% more power would win.

The lower wattage kid has higher w/kg which will make them faster and reduce the effect of the net lower power (he’d get up the hill section faster)

Also, as mentioned earlier, drafting… That’s a huge thing. Riding in the draft vs alone or on the front is a huge factor

You can tell by the finish times the kid in C finished in a pack while the kids in D finished alone or in a much smaller group

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I did add 5kg to my lads weight as I was worried about him being over w/kg limit but as you can see nearly everybody is over powered for D & C.
Is sand bagging or cheating the only way to win in Zwift?

That would have slowed him down for sure, undo that and bump him up if he needs to be bumped up. Is it an official event that uses zwiftpower for results or is it just a standard zwift event? Anyone that cares about racing results ignores zwift’s results. (Use zwiftpower to decide when to go up a grade)

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Hi Noah,

please ensure that both you and your son fully understand that Zwift is really only a training platform and in race mode there are truly too many variables to have a fair race or result.
I only say this as it must be totally demoralising for you both as Zwift is not replicating your true ability. This is a problem that Zwift has had for way too long now, but will hopefully address in the distant future. (please check all the other threads going back months/years)
Zwift is a fantastic platform to keep fit or get fitter, but as for being real, needs lots of work.
I hope our present Covid problems will improve soon so that you can go back to the real world and achieve your real results.
All the best and “Ride On”