By now you might be a Zwift veteran having done a plethora of races. With plenty of races to choose from every day, there’s something for everyone to get involved with. Zwift racing is a lot of fun and a great workout – but if you’re finding you can’t quite be competitive, we’ve compiled 5 top tips to help out.
Even if you’ve been getting the base miles in outside, a quick blast of Zwift racing can get your tempo session out of the way in a much more fun format. You’ll have to work out your FTP in W/KG and then select the right category for you to race in. Then you’re off! But before you get going, here’s the things we think you should consider.
Learn The Course
A key element to Zwift racing in the course. With literally hundreds of different route options, learning the course of your race is going to be key. In the same way you’d pick a sportive or outdoor race to suit your needs, a Zwift race needs to be the same. Things to consider are the length of the course, the elevation involved, how it looks tactically.
If it’s a 30 minute crit city race – it’s likely to be warp speed from the gun, without too many times to let off the gas. You’ll be at threshold for the majority of the race and the relentless lumps at the start or end of each lap are going to sap your legs. If it’s a longer race then you’ll get much more time to sit in the bunch and recover, unless you’re going up one of the bigger climbs. Even the little ramp on the Austria course can be enough to split a group, let alone Box Hill.
Making sure you’re prepared for the course is key. You don’t want to bring a knife to a gun fight! So look at the profile and make sure you’re ready when the attacks go. If you can get over the top of the climb with a group of people, you’ll enjoy the descent and the flat a lot more!
You can practice drafting when you’re riding around Zwift on a road bike at any time. But when it comes to Zwift racing it’s super important you know how to hold that wheel. Similarly to real life racing, Zwift will offer you some respite if you’re drafting other people. This is why we see the flat courses being won in group sprints rather than breakaways.
Making sure you don’t let gaps open up will be important to be in the mix for the end of the race. If you get spat out the back it unlikely you’ll be able to join back on by yourself. SO make sure you know how to hold that wheel, and don’t let it go!
Pick The Right Gear
Just like in real life, the gear you select on Zwift is incredibly important. If you try and go up box hill on a heavy set up, you’re likely to get dropped. This is where we see the gaming element come into play. The more time you spend riding on Zwift, the more levels and gear you’ll unlock. These will come in very handy in Zwift racing.
The fastest set up on a hilly course is the Specialized S-Works Venge with shallow aero wheels. And after having multiple Venges through the workshop in real life, we can see why! So working to unlock that frame is a great way to make sure you’re on the best gear.
If it’s a time trial it’ll be worth trying to unlock the disc wheel at level 35 to make sure you’re best prepared to take it on. Again – make sure you ride it like real life, you’re no use to anyone if you blow at KM 5 on an 8km course. Zwift racing is an art, but the gear certainly helps!
Use Your Energy & Power Ups Wisely
Make sure you pick your moment. In some races you’ll be able to use power ups. You see this a lot in the professional field. Zwift racing brings the gaming element to keep it alternative, and at every KOM or Sprint banner you should get a new power up. Make sure you use the one you have and you know what it does!
If it’s a sprint finish, an aero power up can be the different between win & lose, and the same on a climb with the feather weight. Learning the different power ups and when to use them can get you out of a tight spot.
Like with real life racing, in Zwift racing you’ll have to know when to use your energy. If you’ve researched the course you’ll be able to time your attacks well so you don’t get distanced from the group or caught napping. If it’s a time trial make sure you try to flat line the race like you would in real life.
Sprint for the Line
Make sure you save some beans for the final sprint! And don’t go too soon. We’ve seen Zwift racing go down right to the wire – with triathlons Lionel Sanders losing a race by 0.002 of a second from sprint a fraction of a second too late. But equally, if you go too soon you’ll lead everyone out.
Just like in real life, timing is key but it’s a lot of fun opening the taps and throwing everything you have at the last few metres before the line.
Whatever the outcome in your Zwift racing experience, we hope you have fun and find a good racing alternative in these difficult times!