5 Tips to Help You Grab a Zwift Sprint Jersey

5 Tips to Help You Grab a Zwift Sprint Jersey

No matter what, grabbing a green sprint leader jersey in Zwift is going to require some high wattage. If you’ve got the power, but still struggle to grab that jersey, there’s a good chance you could take it by making a few small improvements.

The good news is, I lead the Pacific Sprintapalooza: a ride is aimed at helping Zwifters improve their sprints. After witnessing many thousands of sprints from riders on all Zwift’s courses, I’ve got a few pointers that may be especially helpful to new Zwifters. Five tips to help you go green!

Note: I’ve sorted these pointers in order from “most honorable” to “most pathetic.”

#1: Start Fast

Sprintapalooza riders ramping it up before the start of the Watopia reverse sprint

Apart from wattage, your entry speed into the sprint section is the biggest factor determining your finish time. Many would-be sprinters lose the sprint before it even starts by delaying their effort until they cross the start line. A lack of familiarity with the course is one reason for this, but perhaps it’s also because they’re thinking of sprinting indoors like they do outdoors, where everyone starts sprinting near a certain spot, and the only real goal is to beat those around you. But this is Zwift, and we’re going for the shortest time on a particular section of road: so you need to enter it at or near top speed!

I find if I start building speed 15-20 seconds before the start line I’m typically in a good spot to take the jersey. Of course, the trick here is knowing where the sprint starts. And that just comes with learning the course.

#2: Use the Draft

The biggest force slowing you down in a Zwift sprint is (virtual) air resistance. Drafting reduces air resistance so you can achieve higher speeds at the same wattage. Find a way to draft off one or more fast-moving riders and your sprint times will improve dramatically!

I notice the biggest time benefit from drafting when I’m in a group ride with at least several other sprinters. The best place to start your sprint is near the back of the sprinter group, so you can use each rider’s draft as you sprint through the pack.

You may be riding with a friend who is willing to give you a lead-out for the sprint. This takes practice to execute well, but if your lead-out’s pace is such that you can push yourself hard and stay on their wheel before the sprint and through most of the actual segment, they can let off their power with 5 seconds to go and you can fly through the finish for the win.

#3: Use a Power Up

See the powerups fly in this KISS Super League finish!
powerup-helmet

The aero helmet is far and away the most useful power-up for sprinters, because it makes you more aerodynamic (reduces your CdA by 25%) for 15 seconds. The only trick here is timing: try to trigger is before you begin your sprint (boosting your entry speed) but wait long enough so the power-up doesn’t run out until the last second or two of your effort.

powerup-truck

The draft boost (van) is also a useful power-up for sprinters, but trickier to use because it only works when you are drafting another rider. The draft boost power-up increases the draft effect you are experiencing by 50% for 30 seconds. The challenge here is to get yourself into a position where you have several fairly strong sprinters ahead of you so you can trigger the power up then sprint through your “leadouts,” benefiting from the draft of each rider as you fly past and leave them crying.

powerup-feather

The feather is also a helpful powerup for sprinters, especially if the sprint is uphill. Since it reduces your weight by 9kg for 15 seconds, you’ll move faster uphill and on the flats, and accelerate faster as well.

#4: Go Against the Flow

On Watopia and London the “reverse sprints” are much less traveled than the forward ones. Hit the sprint sections in the reverse direction and you stand a much better chance of wearing green.

Not sure how to find or ride the reverse sprint? Just ride the forward sprint, pedal for a few hundred meters after you’re finished, then flip a u-turn (down arrow or Zwift Companion button). You’re now heading into the reverse sprint!

#5: The World Less Traveled

Truly desperate to wear that sprint jersey? Use the world hack to place yourself on a different course than the vast majority of Zwifters are riding. Yes, it’s a rather pathetic win: but some days that little boost is a welcome one.

Got More Sprint Tips?

Share them below in the comments!

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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Michael Flanagan
Michael Flanagan
10 months ago

TT Bike

Aaron Lipton
Aaron Lipton
10 months ago

Is this actually true? Or do the availability of power-ups outweigh the benefits of a tt bike?

Daniel Eden
Daniel Eden
10 months ago

Out of interest, how many jerseys are worn at any one time? For example, is there one for each age group, for for men/women etc. Also how long does the winning time stand? Is it for as long as the jersey wearer is still riding in that world? Thanks Eric – I love your website and the endless interesting articles you write!!

Maarten
Maarten
10 months ago
Reply to  Eric Schlange

Hi Eric, I find that I also lose a (sprint) jersey whenever I change my route. Let’s say I hold the forward sprint jersey in Watopia but end up on a road that somehow is related to the backward sprint jersey I lose it. Seems too coincidental to me that whenever I make one of those off course turns at that same time someone else gets a faster time. Nevertheless, you never know…

Paul Whitaker
Paul Whitaker
10 months ago

I guess the other big difference between sprinting in Zwift vs IRL is that you don’t need to be worried about staying aerodynamic while sprinting in Zwift – just get out of the saddle and do whatever’s needed to maximize power output.

Joe Bolan
Joe Bolan (@bolanbiker)
10 months ago

Be the last one standing. After an off-world event, stick around until everybody else leaves Yes, most pathetic, but so is my sprint. LOL

Nathan Peaslee
Nathan Peaslee
10 months ago

When do I get the Big Wheels pictured at the top of this article?

Dan
Dan
10 months ago

tip: start the sprint at least 50-55+ kph (using the aero about 10 seconds before you hit the start of sprint) then hit; and spin rather than grind. you must be going fast before you start your sprint, and spinning will help you maintain your speed, rather than die horribly before the line

Bobby Mac
Super Member
Bobby Mac (@rmacdowell1)
10 months ago

Another good article Eric. I saw your cameo on the Zwift Broadcast of the Watopia race last night. I’ve won a few Sprint jerseys – even without a PU once. But like you said, key is to scout the route out ahead of time and build speed. The other thing I like to do is really focus on the time to beat. If it’s a :10 second sprint say, I hit the sprint line at FULL EFFORT and then I just look down, out of the saddle, eyes closed, DRILL IT as hard as I can for 10 seconds. Even… Read more »

Aaron Lipton
Aaron Lipton
10 months ago

Another pathetic option is to disconnect from the network/wi-fi/hotspot you are using once zwift is loaded. This will let you ride alone, guaranteeing that you will get every jersey. 😉

This is generally a good way to save data when using Zwift if you have limited data and want to be conservative. The downside of course is that you are alone.

Nik Cook
9 months ago

I joined Sprintapalooza for the first time yesterday and was definitely sprinting as if I was indoors and starting my effort far too late… hopefully I’ll be better next week… cheers for the articles and the rides

Moritz
Moritz
7 months ago

Hi Eric, Hi everyone,
is there a benefit/reward from Swift when I got the jersey?
Do I have this then in the “Garage” at the other jerseys?
Thank you and ride on
BR

Reagan Isaac (MMM) U15
Reagan Isaac (MMM) U15 (@isaackids5)
7 months ago

I think that riding the reverse sprint is not that pathetic as its just other people’s fault that they don’t ride it. Also, the forward sprints tend to be longer, and short sprints are more fun

CARLOS MORILLO
CARLOS MORILLO
6 months ago

Hi Eric, in many sprints in race finals I accelerate faster than my group partners but at some point I cannot go faster because of transmision limitation. I feel strong to push harder but I cannot because I already go al 120 rpm. Any solution? I have 52/36. Thanks.

David Boatwright
David Boatwright
5 months ago

I think you have to have a smart trainer (i,e, Wahoo kickr) where you remove your rear wheel and use direct drive. I use a fluid trainer with powertap hub and lose sprints due to wheel slippage on the trainer.

Andrew Bennett
2 months ago

So I just did a race where I held the fastest Sprint for 3 laps…but no green jersey. What gives? I’m a D rider…is there not one for each category in a race? Does it still go to the fastest on the world regardless of in race out od race or category? For my level of fitness I think I did really well, all my sprints were consistent within seconds or fractions of each other. Would have been nice to see green if even for a bit.

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