How To

Zwift How-to: Choose Your Cycling Race Category

on February 04, 2019

Zwift race categories help group people of similar abilities together. When you join the right category, you can test your legs against others who are around your level of fitness.

Within the race, you’ll see colorful letters next to riders’ names that will let you know their category. Some races may show riders in all categories, while in other races you may only see people in your own category.

The best way to know which category to enter is to read the event description. You can find this on our events page or in the Companion mobile app.

If a race only has an “A” or “E” group, that usually means racers of all levels will be competing together.

Knowing Your FTP

Different races can have different categories, but most races on Zwift use a similar format. They often will set category boundaries based on your functional threshold power (FTP) in watts per kilogram (w/kg). FTP is the wattage you can stay below and sustain for longer durations, while going above it causes fatigue to occur very quickly.  Take one of our four FTP tests to determine your FTP.

Once you have a number for your FTP in watts, divide it by your weight in kilograms. Most of the time, this will be what you use to figure out your race category.

For example, if a rider has an FTP of 210 watts and weighs 75 kilograms, that means the rider’s FTP is 2.8 w/kg.

Choosing Your Category

It’s important to do your best to choose the right category. When racers join a lower category than they should, sometimes called “sandbagging,” it can take away from fun and fair racing for others. Not everyone racing in the wrong category does it on purpose. Some just don’t know which one to enter, and others are nervous about racing in their proper category. If that’s you, that’s okay!

To get a taste of what racing is like, you can find a group ride that has a “race lap” or join a ride with no set pace (like the Tour of Watopia and other events like it). You can also look for races that don’t have separate categories – in these events, everyone races in the category “A” or “E.”

Once you know your FTP w/kg, selecting a category is easy. These are the most common category boundaries:

  • A = 4.0 w/kg and above
  • B = 3.2-3.9 w/kg
  • C = 2.5-3.1 w/kg
  • D = 2.4 w/kg and below

Of course, it’s best to look at the event description to double-check the rules before a race.

Entering Your Category

How do you make sure you’re placed in the right category when you join an event? There are a few different ways to do it.

When joining an event on the Zwift website, click the orange “+” button beside the category you want to enter.

In the Companion app, once you have selected an event, tap the “+” button next to your category. You can also see who else will be racing by tapping the category label.

Select your category on a PC or Mac computer by clicking on the category letter listed below the name of the event you want to join.

On an iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, or Android device, selecting an event will enter you in the first listed category. To change this, tap the event to leave it, and then tap it to join again. Keep going until you see a white circle around the category you want to enter.

When you are taken to the starting pen for the race, you will be placed into your category group automatically. Good luck and have fun!


Ready to level up racing on Zwift?

Check out our Zwift Racing Training Plan—designed by Shane Gaffney—to get you ready for Zwift’s intense races. It prepares you for our longer or hilly courses with race simulations as well as cadence work. Any Zwifter can benefit from the workouts, especially if you have trouble with fast race starts!

Race Recon: Watopia Flat over 4 years ago