Are Crit City Races Redefining ZwiftPower Rider Categories?

Are Crit City Races Redefining ZwiftPower Rider Categories?

Categories are an integral part of Zwift racing, and it would seem that the boundary lines are clearly spelled out on ZwiftPower, where race results are verified and finalized:

Mixed Races

  • A+: 4.6w/kg and 300w FTP
  • A: 4w/kg and 250w FTP
  • B: 3.2w/kg and 200w FTP
  • C: 2.5w/kg and 150w FTP

Women’s Races

  • A: 3.7w/kg
  • B: 3.2w/kg
  • C: 2.5w/kg

While in-game enforcement of these categories still has a long way to go, these category boundaries are used by the vast majority of Zwift races today top create an environment of inclusive, fair competition.

But after observing many Crit City races, and the social media traffic they generate, I think there’s an interesting rabbit hole we can travel down together to see how Zwift’s race categorization system could be improved.

ZwiftPower Categorization Primer

First, let’s make sure we’re all on the same page in understanding how categorization actually works in all the Zwift races which are run through ZwiftPower.

Numbers from my ZP profile

Every ZwiftPower-registered rider has a category assigned to them based on their race history. This category is defined as the “average of best 3 races in last 90 days”. To be specific, this is 95% of your best 20-minute power, which is the formula commonly used to estimate FTP. We’ll call this your “FTP Wattage”.

Example: according to ZwiftPower, my strongest three races in the last 90 days had the following FTP wattage:

  • 304watts / 3.68wkg
  • 302watts / 3.67wkg
  • 301watts / 3.62wkg

This means my average FTP wattage is 302w, or 3.65w/kg. This places me squarely in the B category, which is for anyone with an FTP wattage of at least 200w and 3.2w/kg, but under 4w/kg.

Two Key Conditions

ZwiftPower categorization as described above works decently well, but only if two conditions are met:

  1. Everyone is signed up for ZwiftPower: currently, any Zwifter can join any race, even if they aren’t signed up for ZwiftPower. If they aren’t signed up with ZwiftPower, they won’t show in the final results there. But they can still dramatically affect the race! This is a major concern, but outside the scope of this article.
  2. Everyone races in their proper category in the Zwift event: currently, Zwifters can race in whatever category they’d like. That means an A-level pro can ride in a D race and blow away the field, if they so choose. This is what we call “sandbagging”, and relates somewhat to the topic at hand.

What Is Your FTP?

So, we understand now that ZwiftPower automatically detects your FTP based on race efforts as described above. That FTP then determines your ZwiftPower race category, which determines the category(s) you can legally race.

But here’s the thing: the length of races you enter will directly impact your 20-minute power numbers. For example, think of how your 20-minute max power would probably look in a 2+ hour 100km race compared to an 8-lap Crit City race lasting ~22 minutes.

In long events, riders must race at an average wattage well below their FTP, since it’s impossible to hold your FTP power for 2+ hours. Conversely, riders would be expected to ride slightly above FTP in a max effort 20-minute event.

Clearly, ZwiftPower’s computed FTP is very much a function of race length. If I only race long events, my computed FTP will logically be lower than if I only race 20-minute events. Let’s keep heading down this rabbit hole…

Game-Changing Short Races

Short races appeared on Zwift years ago, when WBR began holding regular “sprint” events. But the shorter race format truly exploded in December 2019/January 2020, when Crit City was unveiled and 8-lap races made their way onto the daily calendar. Suddenly, thousands of racers (myself included) were taking part in much shorter races than before.

Most of my races were 50-70 minutes long, before Crit City arrived. Now many of my races are only 20 minutes long! For myself and other riders, the 8-lap Crit City race has become a sort of “fun FTP test”.

Has this changed my computed FTP on ZwiftPower? Absolutely. Because I can remember only one time in my Zwift racing history that I joined a race with the specific goal of going all-out for the first 20 minutes, to treat it like an FTP test. But when I take on Crit City races (especially an A-level race!) it can be a 20-minute max effort every time.

And so we arrive at my thesis statement: that many racers have seen their ZwiftPower-computed FTP increase due to their involvement in short Crit City races, and this has, in turn, forced them to upgrade to the next category.

Earth-shattering conclusion? Not exactly. And I don’t have access to the data required to prove my thesis. But it seems to be a very logical and rational conclusion, and if it’s true, it’s a “game-changer” – at least for those forced to upgrade.

Your Comments

If my thesis is true, then two identical riders might now be categorized differently, regardless of race results, simply because one chooses to race Crit City 8-lappers, while the other does not.

My thoughts on some of the shortcomings of the current categorization scheme have been explained in previous posts, and I think this example may illustrate some additional weaknesses. But I will leave this discussion to you, dear reader. Thanks for jumping down the rabbit hole with me today. Please share your thoughts below!

About The Author

Eric Schlange

Eric runs Zwift Insider in his spare time when he isn't on the bike or managing various business interests. He lives in Northern California with his beautiful wife, two kids and dog. Follow on Strava

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Stephen Seiler
Stephen Seiler
1 year ago

Very good point. FTP categories are being challenged by the shorter races for sure. I am a rider who has fallen for the Crits. In typical 45-70min races that put me at what I would call my “true FTP” (60min power), I am squarely a B. But, my average power during the 20min Crit City races is now 4.0 to 4.1 W/KG, which puts me on the A/B threshold. Knowing about this 3 race average tells me that I need to avoid doing 3 Crit races in a row if I want to stay a B, which I think is… Read more »

Brad
Brad
1 year ago
Reply to  Stephen Seiler

No it doesn’t. You can do your 4.1w/kg in the crit city races and then take 95% of that and get an FTP of 3.89w/kg which is still B. You’d need 3 crit city races in a row, all with a 20min max of 4.2w/kg to be bumped up to A.

Benjamin
Benjamin (@benjamin_pitt)
1 year ago
Reply to  Stephen Seiler

Is this Dr Stephen Seilor? I bow to thee if it is! Loving the studies on polarised training.

Aaron Lipton
Aaron Lipton
1 year ago

I, as I a 58kg rider, stopped racing in Crit City because on its flat roads I had no chance of winning. In my opinion it would be a good idea to have a separate category system based on watts instead of w/kg that organizers can enable (or perhaps it should be the default cat system) for events in Crit City as well as other flat routes such as Tempus Fugit, Volcano Circuit, London Classique, and Richmond Fan Flats.

Rick B
Rick B
1 year ago
Reply to  Aaron Lipton

As a ~100kg B rider it shouldn’t be on raw watts. I will say I typically choose to avoid the hilly races for the sake of results. However joining race series means I got to do well on the flats and just try to finish respectably on the climbs.

However I do think there should be a one hour check added in. See some riders avg 4.1 for the hour and 20min at 4.2 and that isn’t over the limit based on current system.

Aaron Lipton
Aaron Lipton
1 year ago
Reply to  Rick B

On flat routes weight barely counts. My point is that routes without any significant climbing should be categorized on watts (95% of max 20 minutes) since that is a more accurate indicator of your performance in such an event.

Steve
Steve
1 year ago
Reply to  Aaron Lipton

Not in Zwift. Zwift adds a significant penalty by using weight to adjust Cd*A. So heavier riders have greater rolling resistance and higher drag as well.

Aaron Lipton
Aaron Lipton
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve

This is the first time I’ve heard about this. Is this information coming from Zwift Insider or somewhere else?

Alex
Alex
1 year ago
Reply to  Aaron Lipton

Same problem for me. Even if I average my 20min critical power of 4.9-5 w/kg, I don’t stand a chance to heavier riders with higher watts but significantly lower w/kg. And even if I manage not to get dropped, I finish all the way at the end of the front group.

I’d like to do a race with a max FTP of 300 independent from w/kg.

Paul
Paul
1 year ago
Reply to  Aaron Lipton

Yes and No… My wife can’t hold my wheel IRL for long on the flats, but on a Zwift flat course I can barely hold hers. So it can’t be a straight watts for flat and w/kg for climbs.

Steve
Steve
1 year ago
Reply to  Aaron Lipton

Would you be able to compete with larger, more powerful riders in a flat road race IRL? At 58 kg, probably not. So why should you expect to be competitive on a flat course on Zwift?

Aaron Lipton
Aaron Lipton
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve

That’s exactly my point. I shouldn’t be racing them. In a watts based system we would be in separate categories, even if our w/kg are the same.

Tami T
Tami T
7 months ago
Reply to  Aaron Lipton

56kg rider here. I’m a cat C for mixed races and I got the green cone of shame in Crit City recently while riding in the main group 10 minutes into the race. My FTP is 3.3w/kg but that is only 185 watts. I should not be flagged as a cheater for putting out enough watts to hang onto the group! I was barely hanging on at that!

Fred Hamon
Fred Hamon
1 year ago

I think using races to up your FTP is great. Too often, people do not push to the max during the test and those races bring something extra out of you. FTP is an estimation of your max potential and if that means having to sprint to the line or keep up with the pack to reach that level, then great. After that, if it means having to bring it each time because you have unvealed your true potential (and changed category), get out there and push…I don’t understand why an A rider would race C or D and blow… Read more »

Greg Harkay
Greg Harkay
1 year ago
Reply to  Fred Hamon

My understanding of FTP is that the 95% of a 20 minute max effort is only representative of “true FTP” (power at maximal lactate steady state) if the test is performed following an anaerobic blowout effort (like 5 minutes all out). Using a 20-minute race to calculate pseudo-FTP values for race categorization is fine, but for training purposes, the anaerobic component and extra push from being in a race situation will cause “true FPT” to be overestimated.

hani
1 year ago

Great article and relevant topic. Adding to the rabbit hole discussion. I, a ZP “B” rider, am trying to build a new ZP Team “MBC”. Most are new zwifters and new to ZP, they have quickly graduated to “C”. I try to race with them to help teach race strategy. I certainly don’t go for the win since I am in the wrong category. On the ZP category discussion, I feel that we have a long way to go with ZP before we get to this detail. Some thoughts If your ZP category is not consistent with the race category,… Read more »

Chris
Chris (@12sixc)
1 year ago

How does Zwiftpower pick which 3 “races” to use for your FTP determination? I can’t seem to figure the link the 3 it has picked to rides I have done?

Bruce
Bruce
1 year ago

Eric, I absolutely agree and found that I went from C to A quickly doing the crit and shorter races. As my average power climbed (to unrealistic levels), also because I am a heavier chap (105kg) been having a load of chats with Wattbike and Zwift as I was wondering if my WB was giving too high a set of data and WB said they thought it was Zwift not being able to read and average the data correctly. Still dont know but if you wanted to look at my data you are more than welcome… WB claim the Atom… Read more »

Greg Robson
Greg Robson
1 year ago

Yes, this 20-27 minute scenario is exactly what caused me to be unwillingly bumped into B (where I regularly come in towards the back) instead of C, where I had a shot at the podium in shorter races. Given my age (year after next I enter my 60th year) I am not likely to be on an upward W/kg trend, but the short races made it look that way.

Brad
Brad
1 year ago

Ok, but that just means they’re being put in the correct category. The cats aren’t “the watts you will do in this race.” It’s the watts you are capable of. So if someone races crit city and finds that 95% of their 20min power in that race means their FTP is actually a category up, then they were (intentionally or unintentionally) sandbagging in their longer races. If anything, the crit city races help to more accurately categorize people.

J K
J K
1 year ago
Reply to  Eric Schlange

Huh? Sure, you’ll want to warmup before a 20min FTP test but pre-fatigue? Never heard of that.

B. Key [DIRT]
B. Key [DIRT]
1 year ago
Reply to  J K

An all out 5min before the 20 min is said to give a better estimation of true aerobic power. It surely is for me case !! Never heard of that ? Even Zwifts own FTP tests has that in the protocol. As is with many others like 4DP etc.

Rainer Ebel
Rainer Ebel
1 year ago
Reply to  J K

Look at any FTP test. It does not only involve a warm-up, it also involves time spent at an anaerobic power level to pre-fatigue, exactly as Eric states. The 💡 of the FTP test is to provide an of estimate the aerobic power one can maintain over one hour. Depleting your anaerobic reserves pre-FTP testing is part of the pre-conditioning to increase the accuracy of the estimate. For some their real life efforts are the better FTP test. I did the Alpe on a good day maintaining 218W over 63 minutes. Evidently 218W – or maybe a value even slightly… Read more »

Jason Clarke
Jason Clarke
1 year ago
Reply to  Rainer Ebel

I’m not dissimilar: I can churn out 3w/kg on a long climb as an 81kg rider, but putting out the same average watts in a 16km race just doesn’t happen – it’s a different cadence and therefore aerobic and muscular demand. I actually got DQ’d from zwiftpower results on the Bologna course because I climb hard, but as that power result counts in my “best 3” and now I’ve been moved up a category. I’ve gone from being competitive but not winning, to bringing up the rear.

Mark North
Mark North
1 year ago
Reply to  Eric Schlange

But if you “warm-up” for the Crit you are definably going to do a bit of pre-fatiguing, though probably not 5 mins all-out.

Mark North
Mark North
1 year ago
Reply to  Eric Schlange

Other point. If all you do are 20 min crits, your actual 1-hr power is probably a lot less than 20 min power times 0.95. In fact the 5% rule is an estimate and varies person to person. Though to be even close to accurate, you have to be fit enough to do an hour all-out.

Brad
Brad
1 year ago
Reply to  Eric Schlange

Fair point. FTP test would try to eliminate a lot of the deeper anaerobic efforts that happen throughout these races.

Rob
Rob (@robgrootzwaaftink)
1 year ago
Reply to  Brad

I agree with you Brad. The FTP is an all-out effort for 20 minutes.

Joris
Joris
1 year ago
Reply to  Brad

You’re absolutely right. In fact, the article also does say that – that the crit races could be seen/treated as a FTP test. But that’s assuming that FTP is indeed the correct criterium for race categoristion, which I think is the point here. It raises the question whether that is the case for any kind of race in terms of length.

Paris JP
Paris JP (@vjpparis)
1 year ago

Hi Eric, You probably right although you can play with the boarders if you are careful. I am new to Zwift races (only 3 and 1 TT). I am a strong “real” B racer and in fact I am able to be slightly above 4W/kg for example on Time Trial. So as there is more fun to be at the top instead of the back I just test this morning that I am able to stay in the front in a Group race mix with A level without going above 4W/KG. When I see the profiles of winners in the… Read more »

D C
D C
1 year ago

I think this would likely sort itself out over time. If you do a lot of short races, then – as you said – you’d be bumped up to a higher category where you’d race at a higher output level. If you generally race longer events, you’d be slotted into the right category over time. The hiccups would occur when you go through a phase where you change your racing focus from short to long, but you’d benefit in going from long to short. Despite it’s shortcomings, it’s still a better system than racing against your age group (like in… Read more »

Eibert Van't Hof
Eibert Van't Hof (@e_vanthof)
1 year ago

Isnt’t it the other way round as opposed in this article?

Only riding longer races (or those shorter then 20m) are just another opportunity to sandbag (by keeping your zp cat below your true potential).
Those 8 lappers dont ‘force’ a promotion, it just reveals where you should have been riding the whole time.

I hope they will eventually work out a way that involves multiple time intervals.

Ryan
Ryan
1 year ago

I agree. There are a ton of Zwifters sandbagging. And they do all sorts of mental gymnastics to tell themselves they’re not. I’ve never met such tiny people with such huge egos. If you’re not dying during races, then you need to upgrade.

Thrasius
Thrasius
1 year ago

Honestly, I’ve done that. I didn’t see it as sandbagging. It was more a matter of preference. When I was on the cusp of promoting to B, I stopped short races to build more endurance but also because I prefer 45-60 minute races. Though I was returning from injury too. Then I got injured again, yard work this time, and finally the weather got nice. I haven’t been on Zwift in almost 2 months.

Paul S
Paul S
1 year ago

I raced in a Zwift league through winter. I was a competitive high end Cat B at the start of the league. To stay in Cat B I had to avoid full on 20 minute efforts. I’m now Cat A since the league ended having now done some hard short races. Since Strava can estimate FTP from a number of points on my critical power curve, why can’t Zwift?

Ryan
Ryan
1 year ago
Reply to  Paul S

Paul, you were sandbagging. Think about it – you were intentionally reducing your power to stay within B limits. You belong in A. Race A, get your ass kicked, and get faster.

Mark
Mark
1 year ago
Reply to  Paul S

Paul, you’re describing one of the major issues impacting Zwift racing right there! You were sandbagging! Those of us absolutely killing ourselves in races (short or long) who look at the results (on ZwiftPower) and wonder how they ever get near the top of their Cat (I’m in C) can’t help but assume there are people like you holding back so they can stay in a lower Cat and “be competitive”. Well done you. But why don’t you just race to your full potential and take the risk of getting moved up? Coming last is only motivation to get better,… Read more »

Doug Morris
Doug Morris
1 year ago

Arguably, the existing w/kg isn’t sufficiently specific as your example makes clear. Either the category you race in needs to adjust based on race length to match your capabilities (e.g. I’m a B in 20 minute flat races, but a C in 2-hour hilly…), or there needs to be some sort of curve-fitting to map race types to the right w/kg for each length (a 20m criterium sets the C/B transition at 3.5 2/kg while a 1hr loop around Watopia is 3.2w/kg). I think the second would be better, so I’d be a C in every race rather than having… Read more »

Jimmy Rojas
Jimmy Rojas
1 year ago
Reply to  Doug Morris

In longer uphill races nobody go all out @FTP, like IRL you have to pace yourself or train to hold long climbs @ftp

John Hunt
John Hunt
1 year ago

Many of the Tour for All short races are also sub 30 minute events. Interestingly the new workouts, released in the last update are also 20 to 40 minutes in length. Zwift seems to be looking towards encouraging more participants with shorter events. As a C rider, I’m at the upper end of the CAT for longer events or climbing events (TfA stage 4 – my 95% of 20 min power was 2.977 k/wg), but have received my first WKG DQ due to exceeding CAT limits on the recent TfA stage 5 short race (95% of 20 mins 3.325 w/kg).… Read more »

Graham Dilks
Graham Dilks
1 year ago

i have been pushed up from C to B with my w/kg being a fraction over 3.2. I believe this increase was based on several time trials 20- 30 minute events. This gives me a true FTP and puts me in the correct category. The trouble is that when in a race/Crit my Watts and therefore FTP is lower as I have spent more time drafting and staying in a good position. If I hadn’t done any time trials then I think I would still be in the C category and closer to the podium than nearly last at B.… Read more »

Suzanne Bessette
Suzanne Bessette
1 year ago

If FTP is roughly 95% of your “best” 20-minute power, then any race is probably going to underestimate your FTP (unless it’s a 20-minute TT). This is not only because of the length of the race (a longer race will underestimate it by more than a shorter race) but also because most smart racers use tactics and aren’t going all-out all the time. So while I understand and agree with your basic point that racing shorter might cause a person’s race-estimated FTP to increase, it is still likely LESS than their actual FTP as calculated by a ramp test, 8… Read more »

MAximilian Krause
MAximilian Krause
1 year ago

The way to go is to “force” regular TT efforts or Chase races, or even mixed-cat races. There you DO GO all out for 20min and longer, or you ride above your Cat limits to reach a better positioning.
By this you do not have to change the system as is but still get right Categorisation.
And basically this is what Zwift does now! Their scheduled races are shorter and harder, and they often have mixed-cat races.

Mark
Mark
1 year ago

Suzanne, I applaud you and agree entirely. Sadly I didn’t think we’ll this level of rider honesty anytime soon, so improving the categorisation is the logical next step.

Fabio Bertoldi
Fabio Bertoldi
1 year ago

I had an FTP around 300w (4,2 w/kg). Zwiftpower says that I must ride in Cat.A. But with 300w, on a flat race I’m going to lose the wheels in a very short time (and this is not really funny). For flat races I think that w/kg can’t be used to determine categories. I love crit races, but not against 350w racers.

Mark
Mark
1 year ago
Reply to  Fabio Bertoldi

But to me this shows that ZwiftPower is getting something right? As a 71kg rider, a flat race is going to be harder for you, just like IRL. You’ll do better on the climbs or punchy races. For me as a 85kg rider at 3.0w/kg, I do better in Cat C on Crit races and get destroyed on hilly races, just like IRL. I think the issue here is whether there should be adjustment of ranking (by whatever means) to make the fairest possible playing field. There’s definitely an argument for nuanced categorisation based on the “type” of race and/or… Read more »

Mark
Mark
1 year ago
Reply to  Fabio Bertoldi

Sorry I should have written as an 85kg rider with a 255 FTP (regularly tested and updated) as its the w/kg for a given ride that’s the issue!

Chris
Chris
1 year ago

I think the classification is okay but could be broader. Crit city is increasing FTP’s yes, but it’s only because those who enter longer races might not be doing the proper training to increase their FTP and instead are focusing on Endurance aspects like Zone 3. If one were focusing on training in addition to racing an FTP increase is probably still more likely. I think the classification issue is simply that racers are getting stronger because their FTP training (Crits) is stronger. We’re all playing by the same rules… in theory. Whereas by racing in only endurance events one… Read more »

Rob Campbell
Rob Campbell
1 year ago

I’m new to Zwift – did my first Group ride on the weekend were I averaged 188W over the 2 hours. When the ride was done, a summary popped up and at the top was a green ‘B’ (the adjacent ‘A’ was shaded). Does this mean Zwift thinks I should be in the B category?

Justin
Justin
1 year ago
Reply to  Rob Campbell

No. If it was a group ride you probably entered the B Group which relates to distance not power. You’re probably a Cat C. Sign up to Zwiftpower that will assist

Rob Campbell
Rob Campbell
1 year ago
Reply to  Justin

Thank you Justin!

J K
J K
1 year ago

This is like Trump’s recent statement: “if we didn’t test so much, we wouldn’t have so many Covid-19 cases.” Yeah, if you don’t test your FTP, you don’t know what it is.

Taking 95% of your max 20min power is a generally accepted way of establishing your functional threshold power.

I appreciate the work done on this site and I don’t mean to be critical but this article makes no sense.

Ole
Ole
1 year ago
Reply to  J K

The problem with the FTP==95% max 20min power/kg is that it does only measure how you can perform for 20 minutes. It does not say that your 1 hour FTP is nowhere near your 20 min FTP or that you can’t replicate the same numbers in hilly races. It does not say that you are a light rider that can show big numbers on hills but struggle to keep up with the category on flat races. This discussion only highlights the fact that max 20 min power/kg is a bad metric for categorizing riders when both the length and profile… Read more »

Marc S
Marc S
1 year ago

What is the purpose of categorization? To race against people who are more or less equally shpaed to you. This gives races and people in it the fun factor that is lost when an A rider smashes a B, C or D race. Are FTP and weight two good variables to establish how are you shaped against rest of the world? My thougt is that they are probably good enough if they are measured in similar circumstances.  For instance, do you weight yourself early in the morning before breakfast or after a big lunch? To be fair, everyone should use… Read more »

Benjamin
Benjamin (@benjamin_pitt)
1 year ago

I won an A grade race, even though zwiftpower said I should be in C grade. A few races on and it’s still sating I’m a B grader, despite this clearly not being the case…. historic data isn’t foolproof.

Benjamin
Benjamin (@benjamin_pitt)
1 year ago

Ftp isn’t a good metric for short races like Crits isn’t a good metric imo. A sprinter with the same ftp as a time trialist will crush the TT rider every time. The sprinter needs a lowe ftp to make it a fair fight.
Triathletes are dead in the water unless they have mega ftp like Sanders who can just ride people into the ground.

But that’s crit racing, it’s the sprinters race.

Michael Witzel
Michael Witzel
1 year ago

This is absolutely true. In my separate FTP test I have 4 W/kg and on zwiftpower ~3.79 due to long races. But what could be the right strategy to align?

max krause
max krause
1 year ago

definitely true!! i was mid-b cat racer and never got more than 3.8wkg as 20min effort. only through shorter races in crit city but also tour de zwift (bologna tt, yorkshire) i came to the very max of my 20min, all of a sudden having 4.1-4.2 as average. since then i did longer races again and never come close to it, no matter how much i suffer. Recently i raced the alpe du zwift. me with my 4.1wkg best 20min could hold 3.8up the climb with max 3.9 for 20min… others in the same cat had a total average of… Read more »

Rob Ambrosino
Rob Ambrosino
1 year ago

“If my thesis is true, then two identical riders might now be categorized differently, regardless of race results, simply because one chooses to race Crit City 8-lappers, while the other does not.”

Erm, I don’t see that big of an issue there? If your thesis is true, these two identical riders will never race against each other. Each is categorised properly for the type of race they usually enter.

Alex
Alex
1 year ago

Interesting read, thank you! So what I just learned is that my ZP category is A because my FTP is below 300 watts even though I’m >4.6 w/kg. Does that mean if I gained a couple watts to get above 300 and also gained a couple kilos to stay at 4.7 w/kg I would be classified A+? And more importantly, if I lost several kg to get down to 54 and also lost some watts to get down to 249, could I race in B even though my w/kg was still 4.6? (On a serious note, I highly doubt I… Read more »

NZell
NZell
1 year ago

Zwift should just put a tag or special jersey on those not registered on Zwiftpower. This way true contender’s can strategize with race tactics based on who potentially will be in the final results.

Benjamin
Benjamin (@benjamin_pitt)
1 year ago
Reply to  NZell

lol are you mad? Why would zwift want to do that? Zwift has nothing to do with zwiftpower.

Rob Spink
Rob Spink
1 year ago

An interesting article,I do agree that you are more likely to get upgraded if you ride these events more frequently, but I also believe this stands for long hilly events such as the Innsbruck kom. However I disagree that they are a good ftp 20 min test as zwift races are brutal at the start and these are more so, so you are likely to flood your system with lactic acid (with a heavy reliance on your anaerobic system) early on and then after 5 min your power is likely to drop dramatically. In a true Effective 20 min ftp… Read more »

Ward
Ward
1 year ago

Dead right Eric
As an ex strong C, I specifically avoided crit city for a few months because I was pretty sure it was going to push me to B class.

Pretty much any 20 minute race would do the same thing, but there’s so many crit city races they are the easy pick for a short race. Plus crit city is fun

Joseph Frost
Joseph Frost
1 year ago

If you are perfectly categorized you should end up in about the middle of the field every race. Sandbaggers don’t want this….but I suspect most racers don’t want this either. Therefore, perfect categorization isn’t the goal for anyone.

Benjamin
Benjamin (@benjamin_pitt)
1 year ago
Reply to  Joseph Frost

Well it would come down to how you hide in the draft. If all things are equal, ie everyone was equally adept, then those that get the better power ups during the event should be at the front. Ive had crit city races where all I get is BB and ghost power ups, it’s effect is like taking an extra turn at the front, or missing that downhill section, your sprint at the end is affected.

Mike McKinney
Mike McKinney
1 year ago

Thanks Eric. Something to consider down the road. If the estimate is 95% for 20 min FTP and an hour is 100% it seems the wkg could be adjusted based on length of time in a particular race. I have been using Zwift for about 1 1/2 years with a couple of races per week. I will consistently be in the “D” category or low “C” (75+ years old) but still love to race even knowing those in my category are sandbagging. Zwiftpower does help but you really don’t know the results until after the race rather than in the… Read more »

Sage Koh
Sage Koh
1 year ago

A flat crit is essentially a 25 minute sprint which is in turn a long FTP test with drafting. I agree Zwift should modify wpk classifications and have more divisons too. Like many others, I can bury myself for 25 minutes at 4.5 wpk and turn in a decent result , but no way I’m doing that for 46 -60kms. High B , Low A category at best.

Benjamin
Benjamin (@benjamin_pitt)
1 year ago
Reply to  Sage Koh

4.6wkg for 25 mins, you either are a trick sprinter who is using your fast twitch muscles to achieve that 25 min effort, or you really suck at ftp tests and don’t realise you are an A grader, not a B.

MAximilian Krause
MAximilian Krause
1 year ago
Reply to  Sage Koh

Even high A-graders do not hold average 4.5wkg for 46-60km. Most of the time it is below with some surges in the middle. It is almost pro level to have 4.5wkg average.

Kevin
Kevin
1 year ago

Exactly, I started racing In D with 3 crits and zwiftpower immediately bumped me to C at 2.6. Now switched to longer races and rides and I am really a 2.4-2.5 and would love to race for podiums in D for a bit before moving up to C. In effect, I never should have started on zwiftpower by doing 3 crits in a row as initial 3 races. Maybe after 90+ days will be reclassified, but that may be wrong again as I plan to get stronger in those 90 days, so by then will likely actually be a bottom… Read more »

Juan
Juan
1 year ago
Reply to  Kevin

What is point to take a podium from someone weaker than you? Where is pride and honor of that?

Gobi
Gobi
1 year ago

I deliberately raced crits and races up to 31kms to do the hard work. It has helped me focus and raise my threshold. I can ride 3.9wkg in a 2hour race which puts me nowhere but I am in the right category as even in these long races I still ride a chunk at plus 4Wkg so I’d say a racers true category will still come through.

Filipe Barwick
Filipe Barwick
1 year ago

It would change if we start understanding that being at the bottom of cat A is better than being at the top of B. In my opinion, Zpower should change the way its ranking is (giving more points for competitors at Cat A, for instance) to incentive people to ‘move up’.

If you are top 3 at Cat C. Congrats!! Let’s challenge yourself: move up to Cat B and see how you perform. 

Gobi
Gobi
1 year ago
Reply to  Filipe Barwick

When I joined Zwift my goal from day 1 was to be an A Cat – I’d rather be last A than 1st B. I wanted to be true to myself and frankly I am thinking about when I get to race on the roads again.

Benjamin
Benjamin (@benjamin_pitt)
1 year ago
Reply to  Filipe Barwick

So zwiftpower don’t weight wins over higher grade competitiors higher? Seems a big error?

Kevin Otolski
Kevin Otolski (@kotolski)
1 year ago

Does the 3 race, 90 day average have to be a race or is it any event that posts to ZP? For example one of the Tour for all 2020 group rides.

Phil Parkes
Phil Parkes
1 year ago
Reply to  Kevin Otolski

I have not done an actual race yet but I’ve done group rides, etc, and this has me classified as a B on ZP – part of the reason I have been put off racing to be honest as I a little wary of getting my a**e handed to me straight off in a B race!

Gobi
Gobi
1 year ago
Reply to  Phil Parkes

I got spat out in my first race as a B cat, it was an eye opener and a motivator. You just have to suck it up and race man. Once you get the start nailed and can stay on a bunch it gets better and better. I still get a kicking some days but that is the same as normal racing.

Good Luck !!

Phil Parkes
Phil Parkes
1 year ago
Reply to  Gobi

Thanks buddy!

Aoi Niigaki
Aoi Niigaki
1 year ago
Reply to  Kevin Otolski

From ZwiftPower: “Your category is calculated by taking an average of your best 3 FTPs in completed races and group rides in the last 90 days.”

Adam
Adam
1 year ago

Surely the issue here is that there is only four simple categories covering all types of race; hill, flat, short, long, tt, double draft… for all types of riders who have their power measured differently. I’ve been racing cat c. On a recent SZR race I got dq’d for too much power, but I only finished 16t. I’d out out way more power than everyone ahead of me. Why? I’m a ‘clydesdale’ and kept trying to pull a lazy group back into contention. I tried bloody hard to get back on the lead group to get dq’d! Am I annoyed..… Read more »

Jerome
Jerome
1 year ago

I’ve always considered calling it a FTP a bit useless if everyone is using 95% of 20min. FTP is a threshold over an aerobic effort. The 95% came about as an estimating tool if you didnt have enough data over long events. It was supposed to be ignored once you did.

But if everyone is using the 95% we may as well just call ‘the watts you can hold for 20min’ something and use that. Rather than everyone slicing off 5% and calling that the standard.

Benjamin
Benjamin (@benjamin_pitt)
1 year ago
Reply to  Jerome

Ideally it would be a results based system. Ftp is a poor performance measure

Diesel Danny
Diesel Danny
1 year ago
Reply to  Jerome

Agree! Call it CP20.

I bet many riders would struggle to hold 90% of their 20 min PR for 60 min (true FTP).

95% is valid with a good protocol, experienced athletes used to hammer high Z3/Z4, etc.

Hobbanero
Hobbanero (@hobbanero)
1 year ago

Perhaps there should be an additional filter for the racing series that you have done a formal FTP test on Zwift or have a sufficient number of short races to have an FTP number that is approximately correct. As others have pointed out, your FTP is what it is, and a short hard effort is a decent approximation (short of lab testing). If you only do long efforts on Zwift, then any auto-calculated number is not correct. The only difference between that and weight doping is that one involves sloth, and one involves “optimism”.

Derek
Derek (@dpr4473)
1 year ago

I still don’t get the ZP categorization. Most of my crit races are 4.7w/kg or above and, theoretically, that should put me in the A+ cat. Yet here I am in comfy-cozy in the As.

Derek
Derek (@dpr4473)
1 year ago
Reply to  Eric Schlange

Oh, okay. Numbers have always confused me. Ha!

Dan
Dan
1 year ago

Eric you are completely right crits bump up your ftp compared to longer races. I also agree that they artificially bump up ftp because pre-fatigue is a key component of a 20 minute ftp test. The average w/kg I can manage over a 20 minute crit definitely exceeds 95% of what I can hold for 1 hour if I am fresh when entering the crit. I also find that if I use my crit based ftp as a gauge to measure myself against other riders in longer races I often get a nasty surprise when I get blown away by… Read more »

J Skyrm
J Skyrm
1 year ago

Spot on!! I was just pondering this earlier this week.

Pablo León
Pablo León (@pabloleonudec)
1 year ago

As it has been said by some, the FTP concept is one of many attempts to create a parameter to mesure cyclists properly. From that stand, the right way to aproach it is to do a real 1 hour test, since the 20’ protocole was created for practical reasons. That being said, if we are just looking for a number to categorize riders on an indoor game rather than optimizing their training routines (and that is just for normal riders, since sports science keeps struggling to find the best way to do that with elite cyclists), it seems to me… Read more »

Andrew A Martins
Andrew A Martins
1 year ago

Do you think we could close racing to everyone until they complete a few evaluation tests? Maybe test FTP and ramping intervals in separate tests, all while wearing a HR monitor.

Basically, you could join group rides without completing the tests, but the events classified as a “race” require you to complete the evals

Marco
Marco
1 year ago
Reply to  Eric Schlange

I would favor an additional ‘E’ category in races, in which E-riders are able to see and draft everyone, but the other cats cannot see nor draft E-riders. My reasoning being: 1) people that want to under-Cat in a race because it is a recovery ride or to guide others can choose the E-cat without influencing race dynamics; 2) people that have no clue where they fit in due to insufficient data can build such data, whilst benefiting from a racing experience without influencing race dynamics; 3) Those at the threshold/lower limit of the cat can choose this Cat to… Read more »

Ernie
Ernie
1 year ago

Seems to me the problem is the categorization scheme itself. First of all the “mixed race” w/kg vs actual wattage FTP numbers only make sense for someone who weighs in the range of 60-62.5 kg. More than that, and you’ll be over the wattage limit without being over the w/kg limit, possibly slotting into a lower category than you’re capable of. Not sure how one is to make sense of that, but a 300W FTP, it seems, might belong in the A or A+ category? Also, maybe more substantively, the categories are too broad. Putting together someone doing just over… Read more »

Adrian Amos
Adrian Amos (@ahamos)
1 year ago

My Crit City race this morning lasted 19:44 for 8 laps. Not enough for ZP to credit me for holding on with some of the fastest folks I’ve ever ridden with.

Ben
Ben
1 year ago

I slightly disagree with the FTP-based categorization. I am a light rider, so my ftp is going to be high but I might be putting out half the watts as someone else. This is EXTREMELY frustrating when signing up for zwift races because I must sign up for the A Cat but put out B Cat watts. My idea is categorize by 60 min FTP for long races (over~45 min) and by 20 min ftp for shorter races (less than 45 mins). Just a thought.

Ben
Ben
1 year ago
Reply to  Ben

Basically, ftp categorization only works if everyone weighs exactly the same.

Paul Smith
Paul Smith (@smithpauld1501)
1 year ago

I’m not going to rail against the validity of establishing one’s FTP based on the best 20 minutes of a 30-minute race. Even though I’m only a D racer, I know how my numbers rise in short races.

So: a modest proposal.

Let’s create a new measure: ZTP that can’t be confused with FTP, which was originally to supposed to represent your maximum average power over 60 minutes.

To my mind, the ramp test is a 400-meter sprint while the one-hour FTP is a cross-country run. Let’s keep the measures separate.

Brett Smith
Member
Brett Smith (@brettney69)
1 year ago

As the owner of a race team (BIkestrong-KTM) and also someone who competes and coaches, I find the fact that many people are doing what equate to FTP tests 2 or 3 times a week, not only isn’t good for you physiologically it also changes your physiology. If you’re not following a decent training plan and making sure you mix up your efforts, you’re going to be an FTPony without any ability to surge, rest, surge, sustain, surge etc.. and when we get back to racing outside together, you’re going to struggle, especially in the very competitive and surge based… Read more »

Gobi
Gobi
1 year ago
Reply to  Brett Smith

LOL Brett – I have never seen so many great climbers as I have seen on Zwift. I would say this about the CRITS. I have been using them because I can’t just sit at FTP, if I don’t respond to the surges I get spat out the back. I’m a CX racer so a 40 min race effort is good for CX. Stepping out into the longer races is far more challenging as I’m having to do endurance work I don’t normally need.

D C
D C
1 year ago
Reply to  Brett Smith

Theres does seem to be something off in Zwift’s speed modeling. The speed I go on Zwift flat sections for the wattage I’m doing is too high by at least 5 km/h. I was also just in a flat race in a 3-person group where someone at 50 kg hung on the back the whole time just doing 100-120 W with myself and the other person doing 190-230 W. They shot past us in the last 2-300 metres. Brett: My not having draft racing experience in real life (only triathlon and TTs), do you think this person could have hung… Read more »

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