How Much Harder are Category A Races?

Overview

In Zwift racing, there is a category system. D being the lowest, and A being the highest. Many Zwifters who are looking to improve their racing try racing up a category. While moving up from every category is tough, the jump from B to A can be the hardest.

How do you make the jump?

In order to ‘become’ a category A rider, you must first work up to it. Category A ranges from riders like yourself, to Zwift pros who have FTP’s of almost 6 WKG. The best way to get used to racing A is by finding smaller, less competitive races. Some races, such as the KISS or 3R races, attract some of the best riders in Zwift, making it an extremely hard race. Some smaller races that typically host some beginners in category A are: Zwift Crit City Races, Evo CC Sprint Races, Kirchmair Beginner Races, and dozens more. Typically when there are more than ~30 riders in the race, you know that it is a pretty competitive race.

What’s the difference between A and B?

Based off of my experience, racing in category A and B are not too different. One thing that I have noticed is that in category A, riders are a lot more tactical, meaning there will likely be lots more attacks throughout the race. In most B races, riders tend to sit in and wait until the finishing sprint. In the finishing sprint of A races, the pace is typically very high in the final minute.

How much faster is it?

If you are a top B rider(~4wkg FTP), you will likely be in Zone 3-4 for most of the race. The average speed of category A races are quite a bit higher than B races. Most B races average around 27 mph, while most A races are around 29 mph. Over 10 laps of Crit City, I ended up finishing around a minute faster than the B group finished. When you aren’t chasing an attack, the race is actually very mellow, maybe even slower than B races.

The finishing sprint

Category A riders are the best of the best. The average category A rider has around a 12 wkg 15 second power, while most of the top riders have 15 second powers that are well over 15 wkg. Until you are able to easily hold on to category A races, you likely will not have enough energy to contest in the finishing sprint.

Why Upgrade?

While some are forced to upgrade, others choose to upgrade themselves. There are a few reasons why one might want to race up a category.

  1. Zwift Power Score: Some are obsessed with decreasing their Zwift Power Score(like myself), so this is a great way to get some ranking points.
  2. Get Stronger: Racing is a pretty good way to gain strength, and some riders want to be challenged with a race at max effort.
  3. Why Not? It’s a Zwift race, they happen literally every hour, so why not give yourself a challenge?

Video

Here is a video that goes over many of the things that I went over in this article:

ZRL Race 8 – Sprinters Playground Guide

Overview

Note: There are no power ups due to a Zwift bug, this will be fixed in the next game release(likely May 12th). This is the final race of the Zwift Racing League season(technically the season already ended, but this still counts as ZRL). For those who still aren’t quite sure what exactly the WTRL Finals are, Zwift Insider has a great article about it: https://zwiftinsider.com/wtrl-racing-finals/. For the final race of the season, riders will be racing 3 laps of Sprinter’s Playground. A route added with the Neokyo Makuri Islands expansion in November. The route consists of a few main parts. The route consists of two segments where FTS points can be obtained: Alley Sprint Reverse, and Railway Sprint Forward. There are also 4 sprints where FAL points can be scored: Tower Sprint Reverse, Castle Park Sprint Forward, Alley Sprint Reverse, Railway Sprint Forward. The total distance is 37 km, or 23 miles, the total elevation is 201 meters, or 659 feet.

The race begins at the main Neokyo ‘banner’. Note that the banner does not give power ups. You will first make your way through the Tower Sprint. The Tower Sprint will likely take most riders less than 20 seconds. You will then make your way to the Castle Park Sprint, this is a pretty short sprint of around 15 seconds. You’ll ride on the Castle road for a bit before making a left turn to make your way to the Alley Sprint. Watch out, because right when you round the corner, you will immediately hit the sprint. This is the second longest sprint on the course, it will take most riders around 23-25 seconds. Finally, you’ll head towards the Railway Sprint, first going up a small incline. The road will remain a slight incline for a few minutes, before hitting the sprint. This sprint will take riders 25-30 seconds. This is also where the main split of the race will occur, so watch out!

Video

Here is a video recon of the course, along with some of the details presented in this article.

Best bike

The best bike choice for this route will likely be S-Works Venge Disc with the most aero dynamic wheels you have, for some that would be the DT Swiss Disc wheelset. For most riders who do not have the S-Works Venge Disc will likely be using the Tron Bike or the Canyon Aeroad 2021.

Points Opportunities

Here are the places and distances where points will be up for grabs.

  1. Tower Sprint ~ 1.6 km
  2. Castle Park Sprint ~ 3.4 km
  3. Alley Sprint ~ 4.7 km
  4. Railway Sprint ~ 8.4km
  5. Tower Sprint ~ 13.9 km
  6. Castle Park Sprint ~ 15.8 km
  7. Alley Sprint ~ 17.4 km
  8. Railway Sprint ~ 20.7 km
  9. Tower Sprint ~ 26.3 km
  10. Castle Park Sprint ~ 28.1 km
  11. Alley Sprint ~ 29.8 km
  12. Railway Sprint ~ 33.1 km

Race Recons

Not many recons now because it takes place on a Saturday, which is when most of the recon races normally occur.

ZRL Race 7 – Downtown Titans Race Guide

Overview

Note: There are no power ups due to a Zwift bug, this will be fixed in the next game release(likely May 12th). The next Zwift Racing League race will take riders through the roads of Watopia. All of the categories will be racing a points race over the Downtown Titans course, one of the former Zwift Insider Rebel Routes. The race will start at the downtown banner, and make it’s way through the Titans Grove section of Watopia. The first power up and points will be available atop the Titans Grove KOM Reverse. The Titans Grove KOM will take around 1-2 minutes for most categories. This is where the main split will happen, but expect some riders to make it back onto the pack while heading towards the KOM. Once riders make it through the Titans Grove, riders will make their way through Ocean Boulevard and head up the Watopia KOM. The Watopia KOM will take riders around 1-3 minutes depending on your category.

The points for sprinters will be available at the Watopia Sprint Forward. This is very close to the end of the race, around 2 miles from the finish line. Riders will then make their way through the Esses and back to the downtown banner. Something that I have seen frequently is riders starting their sprint very early on this course. When I was racing this course a few days back, some riders went as early as 1 mile out. For those who are looking to go early, be aware that the pack will come in with a lot of momentum as it is a slightly downhill before the finish.

Video

Here is a video recon of the course, along with some of the details presented in this article.

Best bike

The best bike choice for this route will likely be S-Works Venge Disc with solid all-arounder wheels(Enve 7.8s, DT Swiss Dicut 62’s). For most riders who do not have the S-Works Venge Disc will likely be using the Tron Bike or the Canyon Aeroad 2021.

Power Up and Points Opportunities

Here are the places and distances where power ups and points will be up for grabs. The power ups being used in this race consists of the Aero Boost, Truck Boost, and Featherweight.

  1. Titans Grove Finish ~ 6.8 km
  2. KOM Finish ~ 17.3 km
  3. Sprint banner ~ 22 km

Race Recons

Electric Spirit Co. – https://www.zwift.com/events/view/2855763
TFC Spring Series – https://www.zwift.com/events/view/2990169
Team Italy ZRL Recon – https://www.zwift.com/events/view/2990234
Wahoo Le Col Racing Series – https://www.zwift.com/events/view/2906206
Team NL Sunday ZRL Recon – https://www.zwift.com/events/view/2924133
Evo CC ZRL Recon – https://www.zwift.com/events/view/2991542

ZRL Race 6 – 2018 UCI Worlds Course Guide

Overview

The next Zwift Racing League race will take riders through Innsbruck. All of the categories will be racing a points race over the 2018 UCI Worlds Course(one of the few courses in Innsbruck). The route will first take riders out of the Innsbruckring, and up the Innsbruck KOM(first opportunity for points). For the sprinters, the only opportunity for points will likely be FTS(fastest through segment) points at the sprint banner, as the top 10-15 riders will be climbers. Racers will then descend the other side of the KOM, making their way back onto the Innsbruckring.

Be careful of the downhill, if you get dropped on the downhill, there is likely no catching back up. Once riders are back on the Innsbruckring, riders will make their way up the “Leg Snapper”(~1 min effort). Expect some riders to attack on the leg snapper, then riders will hit the sprint(~10-15 seconds). Riders will likely sit in until the final sprint, where there will be a sprint off. At that point only around 10-15 riders will remain in the lead group, maybe less.

Best bike

The best bike choice for this route will likely be Scott Addict RC with solid all-arounder wheels(Enve 7.8s, DT Swiss Dicut 62’s). For most riders who do not have the Scott Addict RC will likely be using the Tron Bike or the Canyon Aeroad 2021.

Video

Here is a video recon of the course, along with some of the details presented in this article. *Coming soon

Power Up Opportunities

Here are the places and distances where power ups will be up for grabs. The power ups being used in this race consists of the Anvil, Truck Boost, and Featherweight.

  1. Lap start banner ~ 0.2 km
  2. KOM finish ~ 10.8 km
  3. Sprint ~ 22km

Race Recons

Electric Spirit Co. – https://www.zwift.com/events/view/2855761
TFC Sprint Series – https://www.zwift.com/events/view/2979526
Team Italy ZRL Recon – https://www.zwift.com/events/view/2980510
Wahoo Le Col Racing Series – https://www.zwift.com/events/view/2906206

Zwift Insider Rebel Race Series Announced

Zwift Insider, the most popular place for Zwift news, tips, and tricks has just announced that they will be hosting their very own race series. The race series will take place on the new rebel routes that were added in-game a few updates ago. Each week, there will be a rebel recon ride on the Thursday of the race, then a race on the Saturday.

Details

The race will have category enforcement enabled, no Zpower riders on Zwift Power results, HR required, and staggered starts. The races will take place at 12:10 am, 5:10 am, 10:10 am(times are in Pacific).

Unlocks

Complete any ride/race in the series to unlock the Zwift Insider in game kit!

Routes

May 7th – Downtown Titans

May 14th – Eastern Eight

May 21st – Seaside Sprint

May 28th – Three Little Sisters

June 4th – Triple Flat Loops

June 11th – Watopias Waistband

Upcoming events: https://www.zwift.com/events/tag/zwiftinsider. Something to note here is that this will likely attract some pretty well ranked riders(probably one of the better races to join as it is outdoor riding season in most of the world).

How to Improve Your Finshing Sprint on Zwift

One of the most crucial parts of Zwift racing is getting your finishing sprint down on Zwift. In most races on Zwift, it will almost always come down to a final sprint, so knowing exactly when to start sprinting is key to winning the sprint off, even if you don’t have the most powerful sprint in the group.

Practice

Practicing your sprint is the hardest of these(even though it actually isn’t hard). The best way to practice is by doing sprint intervals(30 seconds all out sprint x however many intervals you would like to do). Another great way is by join sprint group rides, there are lots of “spin and sprint” group rides available on Zwift, one popular choice is the DIRT Sprintapalooza ride.

Racing Consistency

This is very similar to practice, but requires a bit more dedication, and a lot more racing. One thing that I found helped me improve my sprint was racing consistantly. If you race often enough, you will soon learn when to hold your power ups, when to sprint, and more. I often race Crit City races as they offer some competition, but not too much that it’s impossible to contend in the finishing sprint.

Sprint timing

Getting your timing right on the sprints is extremely important because if you are not able to catch the draft of the first few riders, it will be nearly impossible to win the race. Something that I like to do is start ramping my power up in the final half mile to get a good positioning in the group, then once 2 or more riders start sprinting, I start my sprint. I have found that sprinting earlier is definitely better than sprinting late. If you watch some of my videos on my YouTube channel, even sprinting half a second too late can really damage how well you do in the final sprint. Depending on your rider type, you might want to be that rider who sprints first, for some, you might not. It all depends on your 15-30 second power(can be found through Zwiftpower.com).

Power-ups

Power ups are a crucial aspect to Zwift racing. When you go through each banner, you will receive a power up, Featherweight, Draft, Aero, Steamroller, Burrito, Mini-plus, or Ghost. Some races have certain power ups enabled, so this might not always be the case. The best time to turn on a power up is around 3 seconds before you start sprinting with a draft boost. With an Aero or Lightweight, use it just after you start your sprint.

Zwift Race Analysis

Over the past few weeks I have been making a bunch of Zwift Race Analysis videos with tips for others, and what I could have done to win the race. Check out the videos using this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WdfyQ6RCJt0&list=PL3J9-KZmX5NbgfrrxzIUJJSXJrutzsnhT.

Zwift Knockouts Announced

Zwift has just announced that they will be hosting a Zwift Knockouts series, a new ZRL like series where the teams in premier division will battle for the top spot.

Details

Each race, a certain number of teams will be eliminated from the competition based off of how many points each team scores. Note that this is not a series available to community riders, but it may in the future. Each of the races will take place on Wednesdays, starting on the 20th of April, tune into the live stream on Zwift’s YouTube channel to join in on the action. Here are some route/stage details.

Stages

Stage 1 – Elimination Race: Richmond 2015 UCI Worlds Course // Live Stream: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H4u2E99pDYo

Stage 2 – Quarter Finals: Crit City Downtown Dolphin // Live Stream: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EpYG2iCwPGk

Stage 3 – Semi-Finals: Neokyo Crit Course // Live Stream: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NIEfKuZucHc

Stage 4 – Finals, 3 Back to Back Races: Elimination Race on Crit City Downtown Dolphin, Hill Climb Race on Watopia AdZ, Points Race on Crit City The Bell Lap. // Live Stream: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3DC7wvNoGHc

Why Zwift Power Results Are Inaccurate for Points Races

This is a topic that I came across while browsing the forums, and I thought I’d do a quick post about it here. The issue is that when race organizers redo the results for points races, all of the places get scrambled, but the Zwift power ranking points do not change, they are still based off of the rider who finished first. This is just because of the way that Zwift Power works, so the riders who come first will get a better ranking opposed to the riders who score the most points. Zwift does not have any plans to fix this, as this is just the way that Zwift Power works. This issue affects races that are points based such as some of the TFC Mad Monday races, Bullseye points races, HERD Racing League, and more.

Giant Gravel Crushers Zwift

The Giant Gravel Grinders have just been announced, a series that consists of group workouts and two short crit gravel races.

Group workouts

There will be group workouts from the Giant Gravel Grinders workouts led by gravel riders. If you complete any group workout you will unlock the Giant kit(note that the kit is not new, it is the same as the previous year). Women will unlock the Liv kit(kit is from 2019). A full list of the workouts will be added shortly.

Races

Every week there will be two back to back gravel sprint races. Much like the Giant Crit Crushers, there will be one race with a second one around 30 minutes later. If you complete any of the races you will unlock the kit. You will also get the chance to ride the new Giant Revolt Advanced Pro(not in game yet, so keep your eyes peeled!), and the Liv Revolt Advanced Pro. Zwifters will also get the chance to unlock the Giant/Liv backwards cap!

Routes

Routes will be added shortly. Expect the races to be on some of the newer short gravel courses.

The series will also use Zwift’s new gravel road surface. Learn more about the new gravel surface here: https://pursuitcyclingforkids.com/2022/03/21/new-tour-of-watopia-gravel-surface-details/.

How it Was Done // Bringing Down My Zwift Power Score From 350 to 200

The Zwift Power rider ranking is used to determine how good of a Zwift racer you are compared to other riders in your category, and in the world. At the beginning of the year my Zwift Power score was around 300, and I wanted to bring it down to the 200’s. Just today I got a decrease down to 200.13!

I started by joining some mass start races that had a very good Zwift Power quality. Learn more about Zwift Power quality here: https://pursuitcyclingforkids.com/2022/02/09/how-to-quickly-improve-zwift-power-score/.

I found that racing in small mass start races with a good overall score(average of all the riders signed up) was the best way to increase my score. My best score for a race so far is 158, from the OH MY CRIT Saturday Smash Race. This race hosts some of the best A category Zwifters in the world, so even though I got dropped, I still got a good score because of how high of a quality the race was. Racing consistently was also very important, knowing the ins and outs of Zwift racing is the best way to help you win races and place higher. I also made a video on how you can improve your racing on Zwift.

I now race around 4-5 times every week, and I only typically get a gain on 1-2 of those races. I am also now the 5th highest ranked C rider!