Mysterious benefits of cyclists following teammate uphill.

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Watching the Giro I’m surprised by the seeming energy saving achieved by following a teammate up steep (>10%) climbs. The aerodynamic benefit is vastly reduced at such slow speeds yet when the front man drops off, having “emptied” himself, the guy behind has plenty left in the tank. This must be because he is generating significantly less watts. But if so, how can he keep up?

In: Physics

My take: the rider behind is the stronger rider, and has had less work to do the whole stage. The guy in front is just setting the pace and leading the way to give his stronger teammate the easiest possible journey up the grade.

The stronger rider, using less gas, has more left when the pacemaker is done.

EDIT: I don’t know, I don’t speak Italian.

>The aerodynamic benefit is vastly reduced at such slow speeds

It’s still there though. 99.9% effort vs 100% effort will make a difference over time.