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Why is Primož Roglič reported to have assisted Jonas Vingegaard in gaining three minutes over Tadej Pogačar during yesterday’s Tour de France 2022 Stage 11, and why would Pogačar ask for the help of his teammates?

What help can the domestiques provide on mountain climbs? Is their help not limited to drafting (at speed, on flat terrain)?

Update

The link above does not show the extent of the relentless assaults on the GC leader during Stage 11 of TdF 2022, nor does it illustrate quite enough how cycling at the Tour de France is truly a team sport. The time scale of the relevant attacks is clearer in this video.

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  • Can you edit your second link to add the timestamp of the relevant section?
    – Andy P
    Jul 14, 2022 at 13:53
  • @AndyP Updated the link
    – Sam
    Jul 17, 2022 at 12:58

2 Answers 2

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On the flat, following a rider gives you a great advantage because of what you said: the draft. But also when climbing there is an advantage. There is a little bit of draft, even at low speeds. "Low speed" of Vingegaard climbing yesterday was 18.5 km/h, not that slow actually. There's also the mental aspect: being close to the rider before you gives you extra "strength" to follow.

The advantage when climbing is much less than on the flat: on the flat, it's next to impossible to get rid of a rider that's following you, when climbing it is a lot easier. You see that in races, on the flat groups stay together, on a steep mountain, groups break down, eventually to individual riders.

The way Roglič, van Aert and other team mates helped Vingegaard was mainly that they accelerated in turn, forcing Pogačar to follow, thus tiring him to the point he collapsed.

Roglič was supposed to be the leader of the team. It's remarkable that a designated leader assists the number two. Vingegaard was in a lot better shape than Roglič. You could see that when they tried to get away from Pogačar: Vingegaard took 10m distance in the blink of an eye, Roglič did not really get away from the group. I think Roglič is very brave assisting Vingegaard when the latter turns out to be in better shape.

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    In an earlier (bicycles.stackexchange.com/q/84032/48599) question I was asking why racers follow the leader in a curve rather than take the shortest path. I didn't suspect that the leader might be initiating the curve strategically. By saying "it's next to impossible to get rid of a rider that's following you" you provide reasoning why the curves are initiated. The leader may be trying to shake off the followers, and the followers are glued to the leader profiting from their energy and saving theirs.
    – Sam
    Jul 14, 2022 at 14:38
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  1. Pro's are FAST - they ride up mountains at a speed where they can still gain significant benefit from drafting.
  2. As witnessed in the stage you are mentioning it can often be quite windy in the mountains - a team mate can provide shelter in those conditions even when moving at much slower speeds

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