The NYC TTT on Mighty Metropolitan, what a race that was! I went deep into the weeds on the best strategy for this kind of course, read a few articles on good TTT strategy for rolling hill courses in-real-life (IRL), then went back and looked at power profiles of some of the better teams as well as their DS live-streams.
The video below shows some of this DS live-stream footage of Zwift teams that went for a momentum strategy, which seemed to win out on the day.
Watch the video:
So, can we use tips for TTTing in real life to help with TTT strategy in Zwift?
IRL the advice is to take longer pulls on uphill segments and shorter ones on descents. The best teams in the TTT had someone pace up the KQOM, basically taking a 2-3 minute turn at the front. The longer pull meant less surging on the climb, a pace set that could keep all riders together without blowing anyone up.
In Zwift, I do not think taking turns on the downhill is the best strategy. The best strategy I saw was teams that built up momentum on the flat at the top of the climb with the heavier rider getting into supertuck ASAP and everyone else falling into their draft.
Pacing a climb
‘The effort going up the climb should be no more than 5 watts higher than on the flat’. This is an interesting one and there were so many teams who blew up riders on the climb and then haemorrhaged time in the last 9km. Key was having a watt/kg target for the team up the climb, paced smoothly by the lead rider.
Set order or momentum
Similar to IRL, on a flat course the set order strategy is definitely the best, nice straight line with small gaps between riders. This enables good recovery time after riders have taken their pulls. But this was not the best strategy for a rolling/hilly course like NYC.
The two teams in the video, Saris+TPC men and Finesse women, both followed a momentum strategy. On the rolling terrain whoever came through with momentum to the front took a turn. With this strategy, you really need an even power profile between riders otherwise lower power riders will be yo-yoed off the back and burn too many matches surging to get back on. This strategy also required a really strong DS to clearly call who is in front at what time.
This is probably the biggest difference between virtual and IRL TTTing. IRL you use hand signals, you can hear the riders around you, you can hear if people are heavy-breathing and struggling. On Zwift you see nothing other than a very calm looking avatar, the subtle cues of the riders around you are not there. This is where the DS in Zwift is vital. They are the ones who can see everyone’s HR and power data, can see in a bird’s eye view those who may be dropping off the pace, and can keep things calm through clear instructions. I would recommend any team that does not have a dedicated DS to find someone. It makes probably the biggest difference – even bigger than bike choice!
What About You?
If your team has pulled off something amazing in a race, or you’ve seen something tactically great, shoot me a message and I’ll do some analysis on why and how it worked.
Article referenced available at wenzelcoaching.com/blog/how-to-team-time-trial