Zwift Race Categories

(David Mitchell) #1

I’m new to Zwift and really enjoying it. I entered my first race this week and carefully picked the race category (2.5 W/kg to 3.2 W/kg) to match my limited capabilities. The winner had a power to weight ratio greater than 4 as did most of the top 10. This happened in a different race to a friend of mine too. Whilst I am not that competitive, it seems silly to categorise races and then let absolutely anyone join. They stop being races and the fun/pain/motivation of jostling for positions disappears. Am I alone in thinking this is daft? If not, what can be done about it? Thanks.

(Steve Ellis) #2

Zwift themselves don’t prevent any rider from joining a race. But check out this third party site where the results will filter out those whose efforts have shown they’re out of sync with the race category: .

(Mark Kidd (C)) #3

it used not to be like this. When I was racing some 6+ months ago you might get one or two racers upgraded because they had slightly over-performed the race category.

Now it seems to be happening most races. Last night I did a race where 13 out of the 23 riders were upgraded.

The problem now during races is that you can’t tell whom you’re racing against. Now, on the rider list you only see the riders who signed up to the same category as you. Previously I would be checking the list to see how far behind or ahead I was against the other riders and I would be judging my effort to catch up or drop people. Now most of the people you see on the rider list are far beyond your capabilities, and the ones you should be racing against are not on the list at all.


(colin steele) #4

I rode my first race yesterday, I wasn’t sure what cat to join as I’ve never ridden with a power meter other than on the indoor trainer this week. So I joined cat D and surprisingly found myself at the top of the field with one other with a 3.X w/kg.   Some other cat Ds were annoyed at the two of us up front but it was a genuine mistake.  I now know to go ride in CAT C, although I’ll be at the back of the race it’ll make me improve.


So maybe some people are just unsure of what CAT they should ride.

(Juan Ferres [BRT]) #5

I am a C rider and live with your issue. First at all, we have all been newbies and join a race without a clear idea about how it worked out. Some racers don’t even have their profile linked to STRAVA or registered in We are not going to blame anyone for being newbie. 

Actual Zwift racing community is much more aware of this category problems. ZwiftHQ can fix this because they have enough information about us to really assign us to a category and make it more flexible (a 3.19 rider is a C, and a 3.20 is a B -doesn’t make much sense-).

Most racers organizers punish all this CAT trespassing, for instance PRS or KISS (three ticks and you are out of scoreboard). They even hide the after race Zwift scoreboard to force people to register and get results from Zwiftpower. 

  • The CAT depends of the length of the race. A CAT C its C over 40km and B at 10km. Most of CAT tresspasing occurs on TT races of short duration. 

  • Because people are getting aware that the Zwiftpower is detecting most of CAT trespasing, new unfair behavior is arising: fictional weight increase to stay on CAT, and sandbagging to don’t get over CAT limits. But again, the big-data can detect this easily: . In the graph you can see a real CAT C watts/time graph vs his absolute best of 1500km. With this dara, there is no possible sandbagging. And Zwift have this information. 

  • We are a community and you will find these intruders again and again on the battlefield. And hopefully, someday, you will be the tresspaser because you upgraded from C to B. Make yourself a name and respect the rules. Bad intention racers will be caught eventually. Lets give time to racing community to internalize the rules and accept that we all make/made/will make mistakes. Some great riders looks like cheaters just because of bad Zwift set ups (powermeters and smart trainers are not cheap). 

(Mark Kidd (C)) #6

There has always been sandbagging. I think the new way that Zwift shows your race position has made it much more visible.

Previously, when I was in a race and could see one person ahead of me by 10 seconds and one person behind me by 10 seconds, I knew whom I was racing. It did not matter what category they had signed up for. My goal for the race would be to catch the first person up and to hold off the person behind me.

Now we are only shown the people who sign up to the same CAT as you. So half way round the race I’m sitting last on Group C with the next person I can see ahead of me 2 minutes ahead and pushing 4.2W/Kg, so there is no way I’m racing that person. I can’t find the person I should be racing - if they’re 10 seconds ahead I can’t see them on the road. Worse still is when someone who is signed up to a lower category sits on my wheel to sprint away on the last lap…

Previously it didn’t matter if people had signed up to the wrong CAT, either intentionally or not. I would always find someone at the same level as me that i could race.


(Dylan Crockett) #7

I think part of the problem is there is with the lengths of races. For example someone with a 3.0 w/kg ftp may sign up for a B category race that is going to be about 40 minutes long, knowing their w/kg for that race will fall onto the B category. Another person with a 3.8 ftp may sign up for the B category as well because that is truly the category their ftp falls within, and then do the race at 4.1 w/kg average, making them appear a sandbagger. These 2 people then attempt to race each other and it’s not even close. I think there are some honest mistakes made when people select category.

Another example, someone with a 3.4 ftp is trying to decide what category to sign up for knowing the race will last about 90 minutes. Do you sign up with C category thinking that your average w/kg for the race will be less than 3.2, or do you sign up with the B’s and get blown out by some riders that are low level A’s who dropped down due to the distance.

(Dylan Crockett) #8

I guess my point is if people get disqualified for their w/kg being too high at the end of a race, then people start thinking about the distance of a race and how that will affect the w/kg they will put out over that distance, which then opens up the categories to interpretation. People stop signing up for races based on their ftp, but instead based on the w/kg they expect to be able to put out over the distance.

And another funny outcome of zwift racing is the guy who wins a race and keeps his w/kg just under the category limit by drafting the entire race, but the guy who finished 2nd gets dq’d because he was pulling on the front of the group throughout the race and throwing in some attacks and ends up 0.2 above the category limit for just being aggressive.

(David Mitchell) #9

Thanks for all your responses on this topic. I guess it’s prerty tricky to police, particularly for short races when someone could well empty the tank and blast through their W/kg categorisation. It’s still pretty frustrating that some form of additional moderation or oversight can’t be employed that would make races a bit more exciting and competitive. Although I’m very jealous of someone who can deliver 4.5W/kg, I can’t see how crushing people like me who are around 3W/kg is very fulfilling! Is there any indication that Zwift has any plans in this area?

(Richard Farrow) #10

Another problem is the scoreboard. I’m on the B/C border and raced a short WBR race as a B but right from the start I was blown out the back. I put in a massive (way over the W/kg) to catch the front group, made it and was dropped again. I ended up 11/12 according to the score board. This made me feel demoralised and crossing the line I didn’t even sprint to catch up one rider about 50m ahead. The sad thing was that when the race was uploaded to Zwiftpower rider was actually 3rd place but I thought I was doing so badly due to the placings on screen that I didn’t even race him. The whole of racing needs to be overhauled I think. Maybe category selection should not be a voluntary choice?

(. Bath Salts (84Kg) (EV) C) #11

Rule number 1, To Richard Farrow_ _ Allways go hard to the Line, it race and don’t Stop, head  down and hope you don’t puke at the end.

(Steven Deckert) #12

I’m also new to Zwift (three races so far) and wish this was a mandatory selection. I’m on the A/B border, so I am pretty much trying to beat everyone and anyone regardless of their category. For some races I would be upped into A and some I would stay in B, depending on how much I draft and how much I let other people cover moves.

I once thought about joining a “C” race to get a good sweet spot workout in, but then realized I would certainly let my competitive juices take over and that would not be a good idea. I shouldn’t be able to race in the D or C group as a 4 w/kg guy.  

My question then would be the criteria for downgrading a category. 

(martin hart) #13

Come on Zwift, this can easily be sorted.
You enter a race and you are automatically given a category based on your previous best rides within the last few months.
That way it doesn’t matter if the race is a one lap blast where your w/kg will obviously be higher or a fifty mile race where your overall w/kg will be much lower. You will always be riding with people of a similar standard as it’s based on everyone’s own personal data from their previous best rides.
How simple is that?
I do think there should be the option to ‘ride up’ a category i.e. you might want to race with a friend who is in a higher category or you may just want to get your legs ripped off? But no ability to ‘ride down’ a category just like in real life.
That would stop all the cheating #€%¥&@ spoiling the races with far higher w/kg than the category they’ve entered.

(Billy McSnook XRT) #14

Best fix I can see is that categories stop being based on W/kg and are automatically assigned based on a riders recent/best power output for the expected time period of the race.  Zwift has everyone’s full power curve available, so this should be simple.  W/kg is a terrible comparative measure on flat courses. There are so few ‘hilly’ races (and these are only rolling, not really climbing courses) that even on those, power on the flat dominates over everything else.

(Rob Marchetti) #15

Sandbagging is a real part of bike racing and should part of your strategy or goal weather you want to race up or down.

(Nicholas Schneider wbr-b) #16

I’m a c rider but my best efforts are right at cusp3.2 w/kg nearly exactly. I would ride up b if I knew I wouldn’t be soloing off the back, that at least a few riders would be around to race. I like the mass start everyone events (kiss crit series) as there are lots of riders. Funny thing though is groups still tend to pack at cat limits. Most races I find riders to hang with, get dropped by a group after trying to hang and have a sprint finish so it’s still all fun.

(Alistair Simmons) #17

I expect that this raises a whole separate subject area, namely, individual rider handicapping for racing.  I am new to Zwift although I have been MTB’ing for 20+years.

The answer to me appears to be to handicap individual riders based upon time to complete a set Zwift course.  Time HCAP, Not w/Kg or FTP.  Because time handicapping is the only way that I can see a level playing field being adopted in an environment that has so many ‘variables’ such as trainer setup, people deliberately weight doping and trainer inaccuracies.   Anyone who plays golf will get it.

The challenge (to Zwift) is to have an individual riders HCAP applied real time during a Zwift race / event as opposed to being applied in the post ride results.  Otherwise a ‘group race’ would effectively be multiple individuals time trialling over a set Zwift course.  

Anyone who artificially seeks to gain an advantage (cheat the system) may well win in week 1, but in week 2 they will get an increased time HCAP to peg them back…so to keep wining they will have to improve their performance or reduce their weight profile every time!

Riders may well have a different HCAP for each given course to reflect flat Vs climbing etc.

Kudos is who has the largest time HCAP on the start line. Not who has the highest w/Kg or FTP numbers. 

The ability to effectively reduce the riders speed proportionally to their handicap would result in a more realistic ‘peleton’, group and and break away experience. 

(Richard Farrow) #18

This is an AWESOME solution. Glad you have thought about the way to overcome the differences in handicap vs riding in a peloton problem. Nice!

(Dylan Crockett) #19

Alistair, an unintended consequence from this would be very seasoned athletes who have reached 100% of the potential their job/time/family requirements allow them to attain getting beaten in races by people who have been riding for 2 weeks who are getting faster every time they log on.

I do like the idea of assigning categories based on times on a given course. For example I can race A category on a flat course but am a pack fill B on hilly/mountain races. Grouping people by time on a course could make it so you race with people closer to ability level on a given terrain.

(Alistair Simmons) #20

Dylan - I see where you are coming from! I guess the answer is that maybe a rider has to register two qualifying times on a specific course before they obtain a race handicap and can subsequently attend HCAP races.   

You could establish ‘time band’ based categories also. As Zwift rider numbers grow, I see that more specific single category races would remove the problem of new Cat C rider going home with the trophy on their first ride :-)  in an ‘open class’ race.

It’s not an easy one…