Ever thought about why your attacks are unsuccessful? There are 3 main reasons why your attempts to win races don’t work out as you wish:
1) Insufficient VO2 max/ Threshold power
When you ride with the fastest riders, it may be difficult to stay with the group. In this case, there will not be an opportunity for you to make early, strong attacks unless you increase your VO2max and threshold.
When you get a larger aerobic engine, you will realize whether your problems were due to low VO2max/threshold or insufficient anaerobic power. VO2max also plays a significant role in the minutes where the attacks start. It may also be the factor that ensures a successful break.
Read more about why VO2 max is Crucial in Road Cycling.
2) Insufficient anaerobic power/sprint
If you feel comfortable during the race, just waiting for the moment to attack, then unsuccessful attacks might be caused by a lack of anaerobic power/sprint power. What happens is that the whole bunch reacts when you start to jump and catch you quickly because there is not enough punch in your jump. Also, the other riders may be extraordinarily aware of your attacks since you have shown that it’s not a problem for you to stay in the group. Read about how to increase anaerobic endurance.
3) Tactical mistakes
Separating yourself from a group is difficult because you compete with riders at your level, and they all dream of winning the race. Thus, they are not going just to let you make a solo ride without hunting you to the finish line.
If you are not significantly more powerful than your opponents (that is quite normal), you will have to use your mind to make a clever move. For example, instead of making power attacks, you can make a slow attack to which the other riders will not pay attention. The other riders will probably think, “he looks tired, and if that is the best he can come up with, he will be back in a few minutes. I do not have to pull him back, and he will come by himself. I will save my energy for later.
And that is precisely the point: You get a gap for free, and the bunch doesn’t react (in time) because you did not frighten them with a terrifying power attack. An extra benefit is that you do not have to make an anaerobic burst to make the gap, which gives you a better chance of finding a decent pacing strategy. Read about 5 successful techniques used by winning cyclists.