The fourth race of Zwift Racing League 2022/23 Round 3 happens Tuesday, January 31st. Sprinters, tighten your shoes: this is the most sprinter-friendly race of the round!
With Segment Battle Points officially delayed until a future round, this race is all about sprint segment points, with first-across-the-line (FAL) and fastest-through-segment (FTS) making up over 75% of your team’s potential points. Simply put: if you don’t sprint the intermediates, your team’s not going to win.
Let’s dig into the race, including a look at each sprint segment plus tips for bike choice, powerups, and overall race strategy.
Looking at the Route: Makuri Islands’ Neon Flats
Each lap of Neon Flats is 14.7 km (9.1 miles), and we’ll all be racing 2 laps for a total race length of 29.7km. This route lives up to its name, with no climbs of any significance – just a few small rollers. Total elevation for the race will be 144m (472′).
This route is a sprint fest, pure and simple. Think of it like last round’s race #4 on Sprinter’s Playground, except we only have 8 sprints to contest this time around instead of 12. Let’s talk through each of those sprints…
When you take a hard right around 2.3km into your first lap, the Tower Sprint starts just a few hundred meters up the road. 320 meters long and slightly uphill at the start, the key here is to make sure you hit the false flat at the start of the sprint with plenty of power to keep your speed up.
Alley Sprint Reverse
In this direction the Alley Sprint Reverse is 100m shorter than its forward cousin (380 meters, and not the 480 meters shown in game). It’s also slightly downhill for the first half, so expect it to be fast. You’ll hit it around 5.6km into your first lap, after zooming up the biggest uphill on course (which is just a short rise).
There’s a descent leading into the start of this sprint, so use it to pick up speed, then keep the power on to carry that speed over the flats to the line. Brave riders may attack the climb leading into the sprint, trying to create a gap large enough to let them stay away to the line.
Castle Park Sprint
Around the 7.5km mark, then again at the 11.4km mark, you’ll hit the Castle Park Sprint for back-to-back efforts. It’s only 220m long, with a slightly downhill lead in and a slight downhill gradient throughout.
With it being such a short sprint, expect riders to go early and try to stay away, perhaps deploying an aero or ghost powerup for a bit of help.
Riders will be awarded powerups through each sprint banner, meaning we’ll get 4 powerups per lap, for a total of 8 powerups in the race. Three powerups will be given out at each banner:
Aero Boost (helmet) (40%): makes you more aerodynamic (reduces your CdA by 25%) for 15 seconds. Use this if you’re contesting a sprint or attacking in the wind at high speed.
Draft Boost (van) (30%): increases the draft effect you are experiencing by 50% for 30 seconds. Use at higher speeds (flats and descents) when you are already drafting off another rider (since this powerup only helps when you are drafting.)
Cloaking (ghost) (30%): makes you invisible to other riders for 10 seconds. Disabled within 200m of the finish line. Use when you want to get away from one or more riders. Deploy then hammer, in hopes that you will create enough of a gap that your opponents can’t grab your wheel.
Bike Frame + Wheel Choice
Bike choice is simple this week: go with the most aero bike you’ve got. That means one of the fastest frames + a disc wheelset, or if you don’t have that, the Tron bike. Don’t have either of those? Read Fastest Bike Frames and Wheels at Each Zwift Level.
See Speed Tests: Tron Bike vs Top Performers (Scatter Plot) for more nerd-level detail on frame and wheel performance.
More Route Recons
Many events are now being planned each weekend on the upcoming ZRL route. If you’re unfamiliar with this course, jump into an event and do some recon! Here’s a list of upcoming Neon Flats events.
Looking for a video recon? Check out our favorites:
Points Distribution, Neon Flats (2 Laps)
These charts show the maximum points a team of 6 could earn.
As the chart above shows, this race is all about the sprint points, particularly those first-across-the-line (FAL) points. Here are the strategies we predict racers will employ:
- Pick and choose: no rider can put in a max effort for 12 sprints, so smart sprinters will be picking their efforts based on their power profile, current powerup, and how the legs are feeling. Are you a 30-second sprinter, or a 10-second? Can you attack and stay off the front for a bit? Make choices that maximize your strengths.
- Tag team: teams, with the help of Discord, will do some coordinated efforts on particular sprints. This can be quite effective when attacking off the front for FAL points, as riders can trade pulls and stay away from the hard-charging pack.
- 2-sprint breakaway: with the Alley and first Castle Sprint happening within a 2km window, a small breakaway (perhaps 2-3 riders from one team) could potentially gap the peloton and grab top FAL points for both sprints. It’ll take a big effort to stay away, but the rewards will be rich!
Any insights or further thoughts on this race? Share below!