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 for you to just stay with the group. In this case there will not be any opportunity for you to make early, serious attacks unless you increase your VO2max and threshold.
When you get a larger aerobic engine you will realize whether your problems were due to insufficient VO2max/threshold or insufficient anaerobic power. VO2max also plays a major role in the minutes where the attacks start. It may also be the factor which 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 insufficient anaerobic power/sprint. 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 extraordinary aware of your attacks since you have showed 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 are competing with riders at your own level and they all dream of winning the race. Thus, they are not going to just let you make a solo ride without hunting you to the finish line.
If you are not significantly stronger than your opponents (that is actually quite normal) then you will have to use your mind to make a clever move. 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, he will come by himself. I will save my energy for serious attacks.
And that is exactly the point: You get a gap for free and the bunch doesn’t react (in time) because you did not frighten them with a scary power attack. An extra benefit is that you do not have to make an anaerobic burst to make the gap which will give you a better chance to find a decent pacing strategy. Read about 5 successful techniques used by winning cyclists.