Suppose one rider attacks early on, races alone for a while, and then gets caught by the peloton again. Is he now more tired than the others that have been in the peloton all the time (supposing that the group is big)? Will he have less strength (compared to the situation where he had ridden with the peloton during all the first part) if he attacks again on the last part?
To my experience: no. The fitness, effort and mood of the rider at the start(!) of a race determines how he performs. However, there is certainly influence on performance depending on the assigned attack points. The name of game gives it a bit away: Peloton- there is a group effect! Many times it is very important to be part of a strong group of attackers that stays away. Missing out on the first attack points is in many cases fatal for the chances of winning.
P.S. failing to get away on a attack point might have a bad influence on mood after the race.
Thanks, this was what I guessed. I did not know about the influence on mood.
You are certainly right that normally one wants to be on the first attack. That is why the question has come to my mind today looking at the U21 race, There I have seen early attackers getting caught again more often.