How to DS a Zwift Team Time Trial (Video)

How to DS a Zwift Team Time Trial (Video)

An effective team time trial requires a lot of coordination and focus. A directeur sportif (DS) helps take care of the coordination so a team’s riders can focus on the race!

Is this something you’d like to do? Paul Fitzpatrick fills the role of DS for the Socks4Watts eRacing team in their Zwift team time trials. He’s put together an instructional video to help others fill DS responsibilities for their own teams.

How to DS a Zwift Team Time Trial

What does a DS do?

A directeur sportif helps direct a team before and during a race, giving them information they need to prepare and perform. The DS helps make decisions about team strategy and tactics, and they often offer encouragement. In Zwift races, a DS usually communicates through Discord or another voice chatting service.

A DS may take on responsibilities like:

  • Knowing the team’s start time and managing the countdown
  • Telling riders how long they should be on the front and how hard to push
  • Calling each rider to pull through and drop back
  • Altering turn power and duration for riders as needed
  • Encouraging and motivating riders
  • And more

The job of a DS will depend partly on the rules and format of the race, whether it’s part of WTRL or the ZRL or another event.

Tips for a DS

When directing a team, you’ll want to be able to see and hear them. Make sure you’re in the same world as your racers and you have followed all of the team members. Once the race has started, use “Fan View” in the Companion App to locate one of the team’s riders (read more about watching other Zwift racers here). Also, make sure everyone is logged in to your chosen communication service so they can hear you.

The DS comes up with a plan for how hard racers will work and when, including the turns racers will take and their order. This can range from broad to specific – and Paul gets really specific in this video!

First, he refers to Zwift Insider’s 4-rider drafting speed tests and our look at how rider weight impacts speed. Using those, he has created a Zwift TTT Calculator spreadsheet that helps work out each racer’s target power in each position.

Paul’s beautiful TTT calculator

A good DS also will know the day’s race course well and inform the team about it. Paul advises noting flat sections, undulating sections where splits could happen, longer climbs, and recovery opportunities on descents.

During the race

While the race is on, the DS will need to make some quick decisions, like whether the riders’ turns need to change, whether to close a split or keep going, or whether to push harder or back off. These decisions are much easier to make and call out when you’re not on the limit in a race effort!

Finally, to show how this all comes together, Paul shares footage from a TTT race that he DS’ed for the Socks4Watts Aero Unicorns team. For more detailed explanations and instructions, watch the full video above.

Your Comments

Have you ever been a DS for a TTT event? Share your tips below! Got questions? Share those as well!

About The Author

Karissa Minn

Karissa is a freelance writer and cycling enthusiast. She also volunteers and serves as an advisor for a community bike center called The Pedal Factory. She and her husband, an avid cyclist, live in North Carolina with their two birds, who have not yet learned how to ride a bike.

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Paul Fitzpatrick
Paul Fitzpatrick
8 days ago

Wow, Thanks for the write up. Hopefully people will find it useful. 🤓😀

Jim Haysom
Jim Haysom (@haysom)
8 days ago

Great post and excellent video/spreadsheet from Paul!

Logan
Logan
8 days ago

We have a DS for our ZRL team, it’s very helpful for the TTT, Jeremy sends us all the routes, course details, formation, how long on the front and then calls the turns etc.

Really useful for sure.

Antonio Cunha
Antonio Cunha
7 days ago

Hi,
How is Target Power defined for a given event / course?
Thanks

Paul Fitzpatrick
Paul Fitzpatrick
7 days ago
Reply to  Antonio Cunha

Antonio, the target power is based on the capbility of the riders, not the course. For the flat I would suggest around 115-120% of the main bulk of your team, as you will be asking them to do intervals at this power. Longer turns for those where the number is closer to FTP, shorter (or not at all) for those over 120%. Hope that helps

Dan Taylor
Dan Taylor
7 days ago

Is there a good formula for calculating length of turn in relation to % of FTP? I’ve been staring at your spreadsheet for an hour with no luck but I’m sure there’s an easy way to do it!

Paul Fitzpatrick
Paul Fitzpatrick
6 days ago
Reply to  Dan Taylor

Hi Dan, There isn’t really a formula for this, and you would likely find it will change during the race anyway. However, if you look at something like TrainerRoad, when doing Vo2 max efforts, a typical intervals at 120% might be 2 or even 3 mins. This is VERY hard and is usally followed by a few mins at 50%. I therefore use 120% as a good basis for the bulk, but am only asking for around 30-60s efforts. You could go higher for a short race, but would likely go a bit lower for a race over 60mins.

Simone Chiaretta
Simone Chiaretta (@simone)
7 days ago

What do you mean “of the main bulk of the team”?
Average? the FTP most riders have?
we have 270,259,255,253,252,235, 228
avg would be 250 so, for the TTT of RGV (24km flat) we could aim at 280W. But then the guy at 228 would be pulling at 123% of his FTP

Paul Fitzpatrick
Paul Fitzpatrick
6 days ago

Hi Simone, Yes you are exactly right. I am I would say 280W is about perfect, in fact I would potentially go a bit higher, push for 285-290. It would mean that 228 guy is at 125% of his FTP, but you might only ask him to do this for 30s and possibly even skip a turn or two for him, when 270 guy could be doing 60-90s at only 105% of FTP. Everyone is contributing at a power that is higher than them all churning, but the work is divided up. Another option might be to ask 235 and… Read more »

Heather
Heather
5 days ago

Oh wow. This makes me want to DS instead of riding but can I take the pressure? 🙂 Very informative, thank you.

Paul Fitzpatrick
Paul Fitzpatrick
13 hours ago
Reply to  Heather

Let me know if you do Heather!

Laura Francis
Member
Laura Francis (@laurakfrancis)
5 days ago

Great video. I love doing this for my team and believe that we had really great results in the ZRL because of our good performance in the TTT. You are right though it is super hard to ride and do this, I was always riding so often I was at the back or skipped a turn to concentrate on telling others what to do (it’s pretty hard to talk and put in a big effort!). Going to check out the spreadsheets as we never got that scientific! We always aimed for a kph that we knew we could sustain as… Read more »

Laura Francis
Member
Laura Francis (@laurakfrancis)
4 days ago
Reply to  Laura Francis

Hi Paul – The table in the spreadsheet which is riders by position in line – how do you work that out? I did a sort by FTP on the by FTP chart but wasn’t sure if it was supposed to do something or if I needed to do something on the “by position in line” table. thx

Paul Fitzpatrick
Paul Fitzpatrick
3 days ago
Reply to  Laura Francis

Thanks for the question. In truth the order probably doesn’t matter too much. IRL TTT tend to sprinkle the stronger (more watts) riders through the group and sandwich the less strong inside the line. Not really an issue in Zwift, but I followed that logic anyway with riders in order of power 1,6,2,5,3,4 for a 6 person TTT. The reason I left 7&8 at the end kind of contradicts myself above, but just means if you using the doc for a 6 person ZRL team, rather than the 8 person WTRL race, you just end up with empty lines at… Read more »

Paul Fitzpatrick
Paul Fitzpatrick
3 days ago

You don’t need to do anything after that, the order is all laid out for you, and you can decide a target power based on the numbers you generate in the first set of tables (the colourful one) . I see the logic on using a speed based target, to make sure that the person on the front doesn’t shoot off. All I would say is that speed is a result of power and terrain, whereas power is an absolute, so does not mean somone is constantly trying to ‘chase’ a speed. Plus how do you know beforehand that the… Read more »

Laura
Laura (@laurakfrancis)
2 days ago

Thanks! I have set up for our team for ZRL this week and I used it when I led a training session last week. It’s really useful and as we have a spread of 3 strong riders (heavier) but its a mainly flat course and I know that we (the 3 strong riders) can push well above FTP for short periods what it has highlighted is that in order to stay together we really need to protect our newest team members and not put them on the front at all. If the 3 of us take turns at around 110-115… Read more »

Paul Fitzpatrick
Paul Fitzpatrick
1 day ago
Reply to  Laura

Fantastic to hear Laura, hope it goes well! Let me know

Gareth Jordan
Gareth Jordan
4 days ago

Thanks for that – really helpful for a newbie like myself. Great insight into the workings of a TTT as well

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