First Look: Zwift’s Anti-Sandbagging Plans

First Look: Zwift’s Anti-Sandbagging Plans

Whether by accident or design, Zwifters who “sandbag” in races cause the community a whole heap of angst. And whilst complaint posts about Zwifters racing in categories below their abilities have been a constant low hum since beta, the influx of new riders has seen a fresh peak in these kind of grouses.

Now, not before time according to some, we are going to see HQ act. Starting soon, there will be a four-pronged approach to persuading Zwifters to enter the race category, (A, B, C or D) which best matches their power in w/kg.

The initiative, revealed by senior game team member Jordan Rapp on Episode 81 of the Zwiftcast, will be rolled out gradually and will start with selected events.

A Bit of Backstory

It is important to note that not all sandbaggers are trying to cheat their fellow Zwifters in races. Many will enter the “wrong” category because they’re not clear on the detail of each category; because their set-ups are less than perfect or maybe even because English is not their first language.

But it’s also a reasonable assumption that, regrettably, some Zwifters get a kick out of “winning” a race unfairly.

In February Zwift CEO Eric Min, suggested that “ghosting” riders was the solution. This would have seen riders who exceeded some kind of power trigger point vanish and become invisible, although they would have finished the race.

Now that approach has changed.

The Trigger Point

Jordan is still going to devise a trigger point that will prompt action. It will be a secret blend of both 1-minute and 5-minute power. Each of the B, C, and D categories will obviously have a different trigger point. Zwift holds this data on each racer and that’s what will be used a source.

The trigger point will be biased more toward 5-minute power as Jordan explains: ”5-minute power is a really good proxy for FTP. It’s pretty clear from 5-minute power the difference between an A or a B or a C and a D.” And the trigger point will stay secret so that racers don’t manipulate their performances to remain in a lower category. “People staying nought point zero zero one under the limit is not really what it’s meant for.”

When riders select a race category at signup, their 1-minute and 5-minute power will be used to decide if Zwift pops up a warning indicating that they risk being flagged. At least initially, Zwift will not prevent the actual signup. But they will present a warning.

If the trigger is hit during the race three things will happen:

  1. The Zwifter will get a new green “cone of shame”.
  2. They’ll be given a message suggesting they move up a category, indicated by an arrow.
  3. The racer’s power will be throttled, slowing them down but not bringing them to a standstill. As Jordan says: ”If you want to race in the Ds, that’s fine, we’ll just make you a D racer.”

Racers will, however, stay in the race and they will remain in the results.

Keeping It Light

The trigger points will remain under constant review and Jordan expects them to change as he gets feedback from the racing community – feedback he really wants to hear.

The approach is described as “light touch” with Jordan adding: ”I don’t want to whack these people with a huge hammer for something that might have been truly accidental.”

The rollout will be gradual, starting with selected events and even Jordan is not certain exactly when it will begin. The code has already been included in the game. The betting is that rollout will start once HQ has got ahead of dealing with the increased workload of the huge influx of new Zwifters and once all events have been synchronised as time-zones have changed across the
world.

Will It Work?

I think this stands a chance of working well. Nobody likes getting slowed down and this makes the power throttling a powerful tool. Combined with an element of mild public approbation with a new green cone of shame, Zwifters racing in the “wrong” category will not be left in any doubt.

You can hear the full interview with Jordan in Episode 81 of the Zwiftcast.

Your Thoughts

What do you think of HQ’s plans to reduce sandbagging in races? Share below!

About The Author

Simon Schofield

Simon lives in Leeds, in the North of England, where grey, wet winters drive him indoors to ride. An early Zwift adopter, one day he idly wondered whether the fast-growing virtual cycling world would sustain a podcast. Fifty-plus episodes later - he has his answer - there's always something to talk about! Simon's a journalist by trade and spent many years working in TV production. He's at his happiest either drafting a big pack in Watopia or plunging down an Alpine descent with the sun in his face and the wind at his back.

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Mark Leeming
Mark Leeming
9 months ago

Yay! Awesome 🙂 But when ???? ASAP please!!

Eric Schlange
Top Member
Eric Schlange (@eschlange)
9 months ago
Reply to  Mark Leeming

They’re already testing it this week in some of the ZHW Beta Crit City races, according to Eric Min…

Nathan Haynos
Nathan Haynos
9 months ago
Reply to  Eric Schlange

ZHW?

naan
naan
9 months ago
Reply to  Nathan Haynos

ZHQ. There’s now even an Anti-sandbagging button in the Zwiftpower event search. Already signed up for a D event on Friday 🙂

Paul
Paul
9 months ago
Reply to  Eric Schlange

Actually saw this in action today, had lots of green arrows, not sure if it was fully operational I was in cat b and could only hold the leading pack for 4 out of 12 laps, but I see that there were several riders finishing with ave of 4.2 but were able to keep with riders with much higher w/kg. So either these guys were able just to sit in, but that does seem a big difference in w/kg, or the sandbaggers had their speed throttled rather than power.

Paul
Paul
9 months ago
Reply to  Paul

forgot to attach file to last post

2020-04-08_1635061_LI.jpg
Aoi Niigaki
Aoi Niigaki
9 months ago
Reply to  Paul

Wow, 7w/kg and 493 watts. I’d say that rider would have had their speed throttled otherwise they would have ridden away from everyone else.

James Eastwood
9 months ago
Reply to  Aoi Niigaki

Yeah, whereas really they should be immediately pulled from the race! It is one thing being above the cat limits, another suddenly being the world’s best cyclist

Cyrus
Cyrus
9 months ago
Reply to  Eric Schlange

Now, what category should we follow? Zwiftpower ?

Michael Davis
Michael Davis
9 months ago

I would also hope that knowing that this is in place will encourage racers to make the correct category choice. Case in point: this morning I raced a crit (my first crit–I don’t race…not even IRL), and I was the first in the final standings whose w/kg actually fell into the C Category range. So…was I 7th? or the winner?

I hope this new plan creates some change to lower the angst–even from the “rarely race” guy like me.

Clayton Ekeren
Member
Clayton Ekeren (@clayton_vanekeren)
9 months ago
Reply to  Michael Davis

I think it’s important to say that your FTP w/kg will be lower than your crit average w/kg since the length of a crit is usually between 20-40 minutes whereas your FTP is for an hour and Zwift uses FTP w/kg at signup.

Carl J
Carl J
9 months ago
Reply to  Clayton Ekeren

FTP is based on 95% of your 20 minute.

Zwift also increases your FTP, if you hit new 20 minute bests. It however won’t lower it, but you are able to do so in the game (through the workout screen)

Alejandro Mallea
Trusted Member
Alejandro Mallea (@amallea)
9 months ago
Reply to  Carl J

Zwift has lowered my FTP several times, when I do an FTP test and happen to do worse than my FTP just before the test. So it won’t lower it by an in-race 20-min effort, but it can still lower it.

Carl J
Carl J
9 months ago

You may actually be right, regarding the FTP tests. It’s been a long time since I’ve done one on there, so could be mistaken. It would make sense, if you’re doing an actual test to figure out your FTP, that it would lower it.

Thanks. I may have to test that out and see if it actually does

Mark McNees
Mark McNees
9 months ago

Great article, I’m glad Zwift is finally doing something about it. Personally, I thought the ghosting idea was better, because there are legitimate reasons to race down sometimes. One of those reasons being injury recovery. We’ll see how it works, I like the throttling back thing, not a huge fan of public shaming.

Taylor
Taylor
9 months ago
Reply to  Mark McNees

Why would you do injury recovery in a race?!
There are better options within Zwift.

Stephen
Stephen
9 months ago
Reply to  Taylor

If you are racing at say A, then break something have some time off slowly get back to training and want to race at lower category until you are back to full fitness but move up categories when the time is right? Seems fair to me.

Michal Wozniak
Michal Wozniak (@michwoz)
9 months ago
Reply to  Stephen

Then choose open races, with mass start. Sign to A category then race against C’s.

Wears No Pants
Wears No Pants (@jmkeuning)
9 months ago
Reply to  Stephen

There’s always people hanging at the back of the A race. Ride with them, pull them as you get stronger. Or do group rides.

Robert Smith
Robert Smith
7 months ago
Reply to  Stephen

This is the excuse I am sure all sandbaggers use…Stay in your own cat and earn your way back.

PC Carlin
Trusted Member
PC Carlin (@cabopc)
9 months ago

I’m doing a race in a two hours. Can we roll this out now please?

Michael
Michael
9 months ago

What if the Zwift grading didn’t align with Zwiftpower.com ?

Tony Perotti
Tony Perotti
9 months ago
Reply to  Michael

Good question. Any insight would be welcome.

David Riley
David Riley
9 months ago
Reply to  Tony Perotti

I would expect ZP to change their algorithm. But Zwift might play off of what ZP is already doing. Either way, If ZP want to remain viable, they will have to align with Zwift.

PAUL OZIER
9 months ago
Reply to  David Riley

Zwiftpower has been doing it for years. Maybe Zwift should take some help from ZP?? Maybe Zwift should just buy ZP and be done with it – lol.

Martin
Martin
9 months ago
Reply to  PAUL OZIER

Why hasn’t Zwift bought Zwiftpower!?

Rich Burton
Rich Burton
9 months ago
Reply to  Martin

Be very careful what you wish for. ZP cam to be, and continues to adapt to user needs and feedback, to fill a void Zwift was oblivious to and unwilling to do anything about. I hope they stay separate for as long as possible.

Graham Irvine
Graham Irvine
9 months ago
Reply to  Rich Burton

Have to agree with that . ZP exists for a reason , Zwift have been pretty slow to react to user demands not just here and clearly are targeting and gauging success in other terms , just go check out there more frequent announcements on there commercial direction to market players to see what that might be . If you are not investors in zwift however you should want Zwift to encourage more , sustain and support more , and hope they see value in user created content that has grown around the platform , of which Zwift power is… Read more »

Jason Masterman
Jason Masterman (@masterman)
9 months ago

Sounds like excellent steps towards fairer racing but I think you DO have to accept there will always be cheats. I remember GP Lama using a brake cable to increase his output – for demonstration purposes only – on a particular trainer.

spiro spyratos
spiro spyratos
9 months ago

True but there is not much that can be done with different trainers. The only way around that if if every trainer didn’t need calibration, like the Tacx Neo.

Paul
Paul
9 months ago
Reply to  spiro spyratos

I used to race on Elite Rampa, which is a wheel on trainer, and no matter how hard I tried it to be totally accurate I was performing at about 10% higher than my actual outdoor figures and was finishing close to the front in A cat races. It wasn’t deliberate cheating, and I ended up getting the Direto which is far more accurate and I don’t need to feel guilty over my results any more.

Calam Leneham
Calam Leneham
9 months ago
Reply to  spiro spyratos

I don’t really care if some d grader has a miscalibrated trainer making them put out pro level power, so long as they get forced to race in A grade.

I just want a fun fair race. I don’t care if you lie about your weight or whatever. For all except A grade it shouldn’t matter because the winner of D should be at d power levels.

Eric Schlange
Top Member
Eric Schlange (@eschlange)
9 months ago

Yes, there will always be cheats/inaccurate power. This isn’t about fixing that. This is about making people race in the category that their numbers properly place them in.

I don’t really care if the B I’m racing is a pudgy 50 year old who can’t hold 2.0wkg in real life but has a dodgy trainer. As long as their w/kg stays in the B range.

It’s when they’re holding 5.5 w/kg and blowing up the field that the race gets ruined for me.

ChrisP
ChrisP
9 months ago
Reply to  Eric Schlange

I’m not that pudgy…

Andy Beveridge
Andy Beveridge
9 months ago

Looking forward to this. Team TFC started off promoting C and D cat riders to encourage people into zwift racing and this is going to help that. Sure all the sandbaggers will be supportive too, the newbies will not get abuse for being in the wrong category and the gloryhunters, as we know from comments in zwift riders, know it is only a game anyway so will be cool with it.

Rick B
Rick B
9 months ago
Reply to  Andy Beveridge

Great point about teams policing their own and forcing those bump ups.

Jason Robbins
Jason Robbins (@jatsoon)
9 months ago

I agree that no one like a sandbagger, but why not make it simple and do it like the USCF has done it more decades.

Finishes get points, points accumulate and automatically categorize you.

The lay thing is want is to have a really good race, have a course built for my ability, be feeling in oak preforms and then have to upgrade because that was an anomoly.

If I can consistently do that, that is one thing. If I can’t, it was obviously a one off event.

David Cooper
David Cooper
9 months ago
Reply to  Jason Robbins

One problem with that would be persistent cheaters could simply set up a new account and begin again from scratch.

Dimitar Dinchev
Trusted Member
Dimitar Dinchev (@dinchev_dimitar)
9 months ago
Reply to  David Cooper

Accumulating points takes time. Opening a new account feels like too much hassle for the majority of cases where it’s just people that pick easier category so they have a chance to finish in top 10. In any case – persistent cheaters can do many things at home. Submit lower height, higher weight (so their w/kg goes down) etc. The point is to at least have a cat C race with someone in top 10 being under 3.1w/kg…

Robert
Robert
9 months ago
Reply to  David Cooper

Constantly setting up new accounts in a pay-to-subscribe app is uncannily easy to manage.

mateo medicine
mateo medicine
9 months ago
Reply to  David Cooper

Yeah but if you’re used to riding a Tron bike I think you’d be unwilling to let that go to start over again for zracing.

Shoutout to all the tronbikes riding cat D btw 🥳

Rob
Rob
9 months ago
Reply to  Jason Robbins

I agree, never understood why Zwift doesn’t use points, I’m light and if I do a B race and it’s remotely flat I get stuffed over, Do a C race and I would flag. Age groups and points makes sense. If you sandbag in a lower group you would soon be promoted into a higher group. Would lead to better racing.

Kris
Kris
9 months ago
Reply to  Rob

I totally agree. My son is racing and its bear impossible for him to finish in in the topend of a d race even though The weights around 85 pounds and has a power ooutput around. 5 w/kg during The races. But i he tries to race b he would be dead kasst. But anything that makes The field a little bit more level would be good. Last weeks have been a joke. To win a d race you often have around 5.5 w/kg during The whole race.

Kris
Kris
9 months ago
Reply to  Kris

A bit of misspelling here. He has a poweroutput
around
3.5 w/kg

Not 5!

Brett B
Brett B
9 months ago
Reply to  Kris

my view is this coning should not happen to those under 15. This is easy enough to script.

Eric Schlange
Top Member
Eric Schlange (@eschlange)
9 months ago
Reply to  Jason Robbins

A points-based categorization system of some sort is the longer-term goal. ZHQ has said this.

Gaz
Gaz (@eggshapedfred)
9 months ago

I don’t race, only use ERG mode but I can’t understand why someone would want to cheat others and themselves. Maybe they’re the 5% psycho found in any given population??? Probably why we’ll never understand why they do it, you have to be one to know why.

spiro spyratos
spiro spyratos
9 months ago
Reply to  Gaz

It’s more than 5%, you’re being generous

Reverz
Reverz
9 months ago
Reply to  Gaz

5% ;’)… the actual number is much closer to 50% then it is to 5%. More like 30-40%.
I did the Tour of Watopia Stage 3 last week, I came in 7th on Zwift… on Zwiftpower I am the winner. Then person that came in second on Zwiftpower didn’t even make it to the top 10 in game… that was 30 rider field… I’ll let you figure out the math.

Todd
Todd (@bombertodd)
9 months ago
Reply to  Reverz

My last race on crit city I finished in 11th out of 25 according to zwift. I was first place on zwift power. Every rider ahead of me was over 2.5 w/kg.

Tony Perotti
Tony Perotti
9 months ago

Sounds like good and reasonable solution.

Beau
Beau
9 months ago

I like this idea. The thing I would change at this time is for riders just edging into the A category. Once a rider gets to 4 w/kg FTP, it’s very difficult for the human body to build on that. The rider then has to race riders that have 5, 5.2, 5.3 w/kg FTP which is more than 1 w/kg above what they are producing. Not to mention pros. In real life I’m a Cat 3 racer & Zwift power puts me at a A. So I have to race against world tour pro, domestic pro, professional triathletes, and Cat… Read more »

Chris Stewart
Chris Stewart
9 months ago
Reply to  Beau

This almost describes me. I can only get to 4.0 w/kg on a really, really good day by rounding up from 3.92 ;-). But if the HQ approach winds up pushing me exclusively into A races, so be it. One of the good things is this will apply to everybody, which will make the A races more palatable for folks like me. Usually, the B races have a lot more people, which is what makes them more fun. But if folks on the bubble get pushed into A races, then we bubble people can form our own group behind the… Read more »

Eibert Van't Hof
Eibert Van't Hof (@e_vanthof)
9 months ago
Reply to  Beau

I have the same experience. Middle of the pack in lowest racing level IRL, but A on Zwift(power).
Only because of my power profile , where 20m is nu best value. Whereas my 1m value is barely C level. Which imo is far more decisive on Zwift.

Really curious on zp’s reaction when this is implied, this might put me back in the proper B cat.

Also agree that the A cat is way too stretched. Minimum should be either raised or provide A+ only races.

Koen
Koen
9 months ago

Couldn’t agree more! We def. need a separate A cat and on top of that an A+/elite cat.
However this A+ cat should not only be determined based on 20min power alone since in my view 1-5min power are more important for racing at A+level! (in my case 20min power might be barely A+ however 1-5 min is not in-line which makes racing these A+ guys very frustrating; esp. at my weight; 69k … too heavy for climbing, too light for flats/sprinting)

Adam K
Adam K
7 months ago
Reply to  Koen

OMG, to be 69kg!!! LOL. I’m struggling to get below 80kg and realistically hover around 85kg. I can’t get the math figured out, so racing is very frustrating for me. Especially depending on how I feel for the day.

JayDee
JayDee
9 months ago
Reply to  Beau

I would simply create new A+ category (or call it whatever), that would be just like the current A+ category on ZP.

Alejandro Mallea
Trusted Member
Alejandro Mallea (@amallea)
9 months ago
Reply to  Beau

Same here. My current Zwiftpower average is 3.96 W/kg. I come from 2 W/kg, and although I progressed steadily up to this point, it suddenly became quite harder to make progress. I’ve passed 4 W/kg as a 95% of 20 minutes once in a race. Does it mean I’ll be shown the warning? It doesn’t bother me that at some point I’ll begin racing with the A group and might never make a podium again. What does bother is the possibility of being “shamed” or DQ’d, as I’m in that small group of riders just between categories who might be… Read more »

Catherine Allen
Super Member
Catherine Allen (@catherinetherunnergirl)
9 months ago

Assume this will look at W/kg and pure watts so that us lightweights don’t get penalised incorrectly!

Dimitar Dinchev
Trusted Member
Dimitar Dinchev (@dinchev_dimitar)
9 months ago

It’s a step in the right direction, yet it still feels like a “cheap” hack. People shouldn’t be able to pick their “preferred” w/kg category as you don’t get to pick your preferred FTP – you get it by performing. Zwift can estimate your FTP (or just use ZwiftPower’s race results formula) and assign you a current Cat. This way no “unintentional errors” could happen.

Neil McGurk
Neil McGurk (@neilmcgurk)
9 months ago

Love it!

Nicola Tout
Nicola Tout
9 months ago

loving this..cone of ahame..brilliant idea

Anthony C Casto
Anthony C Casto
9 months ago

LOVE the throttling idea. I’m guessing that will clear it up on its own. Thanks for working on this!! Zwift has been awesome during the pandemic. Thanks for your work allowing us all to exercise and stay in community with others not only locally, but around the world. God bless!

BRB
BRB
9 months ago

Are there any details on how the rider’s power will be throttled? If it just reduces the power to the top of the allowable band, that won’t really achieve the desired result will it? Ie, if you are desperate for a win, still better to sandbag and be able to easily sit at the top of the power band then be at the back of a higher category.

I’m hoping they bring in something a bit more sophisticated than simple w/kg.

James Daley
James Daley
9 months ago

Still not as definitive as auto-categorising but we know Zwift are loathe to do that. Throttling down sounds like a great idea. I wonder how effective it will be to recognise those you are seeking to slow, whilst not penalising those just having a strong day.

Richard Marzec
Richard Marzec (@10158111776450990_anonymous)
9 months ago

Zwift power calculates my 20 min FTP for events and races. I use this information to gauge if I am improving. It would not be hard for Zwift to do the same thing. Based on this information a rider would get placed into the appropriate category automatically based on sex, age and FTP. Take the choice away from the user.

Ed
Ed
9 months ago

Personally any races I have entered has just been to give myself a good workout. I really don’t care where I end up on the placement standing. Having said that I think the suggested solution works well for B and lower cats but once you are in the A cat there can be a huge discrepancy in ability given there is no ceiling. For riders just making the cut they will have no chance against the top grade riders. Maybe Zwift should look into adding a open cat. which at the end gives you a breakdowns on various key metrics… Read more »

emjayem22
emjayem22
9 months ago
Reply to  Ed

After two races I was moved from C to B but I am right at the bottom of B Cat at about 3.5WKg. Still recovering from broken leg so I guess I may get stronger (and lighter) again but I am over 50 now so probably not much scope for massive progression. I now finish in the bottom part of the Cat B field in races but to be honest, I’m not that bothered. It’s good motivation trying to hang onto the guys pushing out the higher power and I didn’t have ages of racing in Cat D or C… Read more »

thewannabeironman
Super Member
thewannabeironman (@wanna_b_ironman)
9 months ago

It’s good they are thinking about it. But why not opening races to all level A to E, and at the end of the race publish results based on an estimated level? I’m pretty sure I’ve entered A and E events in the past (for convenient reasons) while I’m probably a B or C rider.

Ekaterina Hardin
Ekaterina Hardin
9 months ago

Because it’s not a time trial, but a race. You perform differently if you are actually going back to back with someone rather than just trying to hit highest average. You can win a race by producing lower w/kg than second and third place, if you know tactics of racing

thewannabeironman
Super Member
thewannabeironman (@wanna_b_ironman)
9 months ago

I need to learn race tactics then 🙂

Greg
Greg
9 months ago

I’m not sure 1-minute or 5-minute power are the right metrics. 20-minute power seems to be accepted as a good proxy for 60-power (FTP). Even unfit and untrained cyclists can do high efforts for 60-300 seconds. And, using a short duration skews against fast twitch athletes (eg, track cyclists).

I do hope Zwift addresses sandbagging, however, it should be done in a standardized way.

naan
naan
9 months ago
Reply to  Greg

It’s a balance between accuracy and impact on the race. Sure, 20 mins is a better proxy for FTP, but at that point sandbaggers have already torn the race apart for the legitimate racers in the category.

Geeceee
Geeceee
9 months ago
Reply to  Greg

There is a big clue how the metrics are probably being done here … https://www.strava.com/activities/3108148599

Tronny
Tronny
9 months ago

It has become blatantly obvious that Zwift and their developers don’t have any actual experience with gaming or the gaming industry. It’s just some bros who enjoy cycling and they decided to try to make a game. People complaining about sandbagging this week or people complaining about weight doping next week. It’s an easy fix that other competitive games and MMO’s figured out a LONG time ago, yet here we are with Zwift fumbling around to find a solution *roll eyes*. There shouldn’t even be the option to chose your own category. Zwift should put you in a category. It… Read more »

Michal Wozniak
Michal Wozniak (@michwoz)
9 months ago
Reply to  Tronny

You don’t need ladder when you have power data. Ladder implicates that many very strong riders would need to race from the bottom, against people with much, much lower abilities. Just put people where they belong from the get go.

Tronny
Tronny
9 months ago
Reply to  Michal Wozniak

I should have been more specific when talking about a ladder system. A lot of games have “placement matches” where you are placed after a certain number of games. But yes, with power data it would basically work the same way. Have a “placement race” and then a user is placed in that category of the ladder system.

Tronny
Tronny
9 months ago
Reply to  Michal Wozniak

Also, ladder would give each rider an MMR which would match you to race with others nearest your MMR for the fairest competition.

Tronny
Tronny
9 months ago
Reply to  Tronny

MMR = Matchmaking Rating

Tronny
Tronny
9 months ago
Reply to  Tronny

None of this is new folks! Games have been using ladder and MMR system for 15+ years with great success. It just proves my point that Zwift is in the wrong hands and from my perspective needs new leadership going forward. They are clueless about games. Zwift right now is people with no gaming experience trying to make a game.

JayDee
JayDee
9 months ago
Reply to  Tronny

They don’t need a new leadership, but they really need some people from the game industry. Just look at the UI, main menu, routes etc.

JayDee
JayDee
9 months ago
Reply to  JayDee

Oh and don’t bother even speaking about the spectator mode for races. There’s exactly one thing that could make it even worse, but that’s all.

Travis
Travis
9 months ago
Reply to  Tronny

Its slightly worse than that. You are describing the “in real life” racing model (USA Cycling) where your results provided upgrades. Lots of ways to implement but essentially results based. That would be better. Or, described below, attribute based where based on performance parameters a category is assigned. Either approach would have been better. There must be something motivating this rather odd approach to solving the problem when proven approaches exist

Steve Becraft
Steve Becraft
9 months ago

Thanks for getting into this, as a D racer 60 y and 200lbs I enjoy racing and when I get beat fair and square I am happy but being beat by someone putting out 4+ w/kg is not fun. I like all the ideas, throttling and the cone of shame.

Maarten
Maarten (@maartenoverweg)
9 months ago
Reply to  Steve Becraft

I don’t really understand what is meant by throttling. Let’s say someone enters a D race, but puts out more watts than the cat limit. Would they then throttle to the max of the cat limit, which means they probably still win in that category? Or what am I missing here?

Steve Becraft
Steve Becraft
9 months ago
Reply to  Maarten

Maarten,

I am thinking “throttling” as in choking, slowing down. But I could be wrong and you could be correct.

naan
naan
9 months ago
Reply to  Steve Becraft

It could be a proportional throttle, a reduction in power across the whole range by something like 20 to 50 percent. On the other hand, a hard limit at the category boundary would at least mean they would have no chance in the sprint.

Wondering if “first to get the cone” will become an inofficial new racing discipline. Will certainly try to aim for that in a beta race (and then DNF the race proper, obvs) just for the hell of it.

Tronny
Tronny
9 months ago

My comment was deleted for speaking the truth. Glad to know this website is censored for anyone not licking the boot of Zwift.

Steve Becraft
Steve Becraft
9 months ago
Reply to  Tronny

I see your comment is there one missing?

Eric Schlange
Top Member
Eric Schlange (@eschlange)
9 months ago
Reply to  Tronny

We didn’t delete comments. Perhaps you’re mistaken?

David Riley
David Riley
9 months ago

I cannot wait to see how this plays out.

Tronny
Tronny
9 months ago

Did I hit a nerve? LOL Eat shit

Eric Schlange
Top Member
Eric Schlange (@eschlange)
9 months ago
Reply to  Tronny

Please keep it civil, Tronny.

Gregory Juviler
Gregory Juviler
9 months ago

Why not just use Zwiftpower rankings to make it consistent, or there methodology. They are already the deFacto Cat keepers… I guess that would mean everyone would have to join ZP…. Sort of like Joining US Cycling or UCI if you want to race

Chris Stewart
Chris Stewart
9 months ago

I like it. A warning if you get into the wrong race and a throttling down if you stay put. That’s helpful feedback, especially if you are on the bubble between categories. For example, I’ll sometimes race A and other times B. I usually race within the B range, and my w/kg are almost always 3.8 or less. But on a really, really good day, I can creep up into the lower A range, just barely, especially in a short race. I’m also heavier than a lot of riders, so most of my A races are flat or rolling. Sometimes… Read more »

J.Anthony
J.Anthony
9 months ago

Very interesting, but we need to keep zPower out of the flipping A pens.

Eric Schlange
Top Member
Eric Schlange (@eschlange)
9 months ago
Reply to  J.Anthony

Agreed.

Gregory Juviler
Gregory Juviler
9 months ago

I totally ignore Zwift results.. whether they have them or not is meaningless.. EVERY points series results are derived from Zwiftpower… nothing else matters

Tim
Tim
9 months ago

People always say that it is the Zwift Power boards that count, but I would wager that at least half the riders, especially in D or C cats, don’t use Zwift Power. So this may be able to level the field a bit more for everyone, not just those who use ZwiftPower.

Eric Schlange
Top Member
Eric Schlange (@eschlange)
9 months ago
Reply to  Tim

Agreed. Hard to say “ZP is where the real results live” when many legit racers aren’t signed up there. We need a simpler system.

Jonathan
Jonathan
9 months ago
Reply to  Eric Schlange

We need Zwift to own the race results. Outsourcing the results to a third-party website that doesn’t include a huge subset of participants is ridiculous.

Renzo Castro
Renzo Castro (@rgcastro7)
9 months ago

This is great! I hope they’re able to make it work as expected.

jcg
jcg
9 months ago

This sounds much better than just ghosting. Using the vast troves of Zwift data has to be the best way solve this problem.

Mats
Mats (@matsaadde)
9 months ago

Really smart way of handling this. I’m on the border between D and C myself (D-rider in ZP). If I do helluva race in D and override the limit, will My FTP still upgrade automatically?

Mats
Mats
9 months ago

Now if there could Only be a similarly softhandled respons To riders crossing the fence in group rides. Like they just pop up at the back of the peloton..

A Fast
A Fast
9 months ago
Reply to  Mats

this would actually be a great solution for people that want a long group ride but their pace isn’t offered. There are relatively few brisk group rides. Usually just 3.0w/kg and below. They could push above and not disrupt the pack pace but still get the workout they want with the benefit of pack pace. I have done the 3R 3.0avg 62k ride on Saturday’s and my avg is usually. 2.6-2.8. I would prefer 3.2-3.5 but I try to respect the pack.

Shane
Shane
9 months ago

What if you naturally have a high VO2 Max but an average FTP, this is often the case with Sprinters? You’ll get forced to a higher category and be unable to keep up.

Michael
Michael
9 months ago

This approach seems bizarrely, unnecessarily complicated.

Why not just assign riders to the correct category based on their historical power numbers? Much simpler, no newbie mistakes, and the races would be fair from the start instead of having sandbaggers mess them up for five minutes.

Jhsvdm
Jhsvdm
9 months ago

I think it is a good idea. Always difficult to decide where I belong as I sit between B and C as per w/kg rating which I assume to be FTP. The course has an influence on averages maintained precisely because of one and five minute power profile. Where I’m weak to say the least. I guess the race duration will also impact. I usually go C and don’t even come close to winning even with avg w/kg towards the upper end of the group. Having said that, I would not feel offended or like an offender should the program… Read more »

Jennifer L Baker
Jennifer L Baker
9 months ago

I’ve also seen sandbagging from a heart rate perspective- Riders on the top end of their category winning with an average heart rate in the 140’s- with the rest of the field significantly higher. Not sure how you would work this into the equation- but, I see it all the time.

Steve
Steve
9 months ago

Heart rate isn’t a particularly good indicator of effort. If you look at lionel sanders recent win in the Ronde recently he averaged 401W (5.5W/kg) and had a max HR in the mid 150s so average would have been mid 130s-140s. I know it happens but it shouldn’t be used as too much of a guide for cheating. The absence of HR data on the other hand would be more suspect and is often required for results o ZwiftPower.

Ward
Ward
9 months ago

As a runner mainly, I run out of leg muscles much before I run out of lungs. My HR typically looks like what you describe.

A Fast
A Fast
9 months ago

I race and occasionally win B races and my heart rate has never been recorded higher than a 171 peak. I always average in the 140s for the race. I’m old (38) and train 10-12 hours a week. 43 resting HR

Nate Furman
Nate Furman
9 months ago

I wonder if this will make the starts less fast, as folks may consider how their one minute power may bump them to the next category.

Rick B
Rick B
9 months ago
Reply to  Nate Furman

Exact opposite. True cat riders will want to push that pace to draw the sandbaggers out

Carl J
Carl J
9 months ago
Reply to  Nate Furman

For most people, based on your FTP, there’s an estimated max that you can hold for 1 or 5 minutes. So for legit riders who go all out from the gate, they should be fine.

Andrew Dyson
Trusted Member
Andrew Dyson (@apdyson)
9 months ago

Love the cone of shame! Please make them wear it on their heads for a week 😀

Michael
Michael
9 months ago

I think we need some guidance on how this system is going to work, even if Zwift doesn’t want to reveal all of the details. Let’s say I’m a legitimate C racer, but I’ve got good 1 minute power. The starts of Zwift races are crazy: If I keep on the power to stay with the lead group for the first 90 seconds, am I going to get the cone? How about the end of the race? We’re hitting the power and going way into the red over the last kilometer. Am I going to get the cone just before… Read more »

Steve
Steve
9 months ago
Reply to  Michael

Jordan Rapp at zwift is a clever bloke…if you are a legitimate C i’m sure you’ll be fine.

M4rk0
M4rk0
9 months ago
Reply to  Steve

Based on how the Pros were being disqualified recently, let’s not automatically just assume this will be nailed right off the bat.

Gil Santa Maria
Gil Santa Maria
9 months ago

The inability of Zwift HQ to adjust categories is disappointing. How do other online gaming platforms manage to do this without problems and Zwift can’t? Impressive and discouraging. How does iRacing brilliantly manage to successfully limit runner participation in distinct categories taking into account the data collected from the drivers? Zwift programmers should learn from them how to do

Jim (Mag7)
Jim (Mag7)
9 months ago

Why not just have categories, like in reality. You start at the bottom and once earnt enough points from wins/places you move up to the next cat. You can’t enter a race beneath your category.

Eric Schlange
Top Member
Eric Schlange (@eschlange)
9 months ago
Reply to  Jim (Mag7)

This is in the plans as well.

Shane
Shane (@wheels_of_fury)
9 months ago

Hi Simon, I am reasonably new to Zwift (3 months in) and a lot have changed during that short time. This is a great step and good for the platform. I do wonder if there will be any action taken towards efforts of riders to “calliberate” their trainners. While doing the Haute Route the other day I noticed someone saying they were putting out a constant 8w/kg and they were clearly a D rider. Clearly it cuts both ways and there will be people who win and lose in this but shortly it a potential issue as well. Thanks in… Read more »

Frank
Frank
9 months ago

Better than doing nothing. Sounds like if an A cat rider enters a D race they will be slowed to 2.5 w/kg. They still win and ruin it for the honest people but no one will know!?!?

Paul
Paul
9 months ago

I think I’ll be on the receiving end of this – my FTP in a 20min test is 285W but when I do a crit type race on Zwift it tells me my FTP is 380W – probably cos I jump gaps and then sit in to recover etc – even zwiftpower have banned me for a year. I am B rider but behave like an A in Croats so what to do!?

Jonathan
Jonathan
9 months ago
Reply to  Paul

If you’re averaging 380W in a 20-minute crit, you’re not a B rider.

Jonathan
Jonathan
9 months ago
Reply to  Jonathan

Sorry, meant *probably* not a B rider — unless you weigh in near 100kg.

Charles Linares
Charles Linares
9 months ago

The sandbagging is due to not controlling weight of riders and their ftp. This is what you really need to focus on, riders cheating !!!

Travis
Travis
9 months ago

Seems using racer rankings for categories would be easier and require less management. Only let people with appropriate categories enter a race and base the categories across a % of “racers” and your ranking (4 categories across all ranked riders, need to race monthly to maintain ranking). A limit that’s not exposed, with cones, no removal, and throttling output …. I dubious of why this weird path was chosen.

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