I was surprised at Radio Shack but watching it raised a question. TTT's are not my favorite to watch but from pace line experience I know that a surprising tough spot is hooking back on to the end of the line after your pull. I know it was a short sample but what I saw on TV was that there was one rider on the back end and he continually was letting the retreating puller slip in ahead of him. I know he could have been just holding on or they were trying to take it easy on him for future stages but it did look like it might have been an actual tactic. Is this something that is sometimes done?
I'm really no expert but it does sound like the rider you're talking about simply was trying to avoid having to pull at the front, probably because he didn't have enough gas in the tank anymore or wanted some more rest before going into the wind again. I don't know if they talk about such specifics beforehand or it just develops during the stage but I think there's some value in carrying another rider like that along even if he can't stay at the front for a long period anymore, assuming he isn't slowing down the train.
I think he's probably a rider who put in a lot of effort early and isn't able to contribute. Saw with one team the guy on the back was reaching forward and guiding in the rider dropping back with his hand.
The minimum number of riders in a team to cross the line is 5 so even a spent rider could be crucial if there was a problem that reduced the number to 4. The time is calculated on the 5th rider to cross the line. HTC had only 5 riders when they crossed the line which was living dangerously.
I think Radio Shack did pretty good at getting a good number of riders to the line, HTC did finish with 5, one more flat or mechanical and they would have been behind the 8 ball. I think you would have had to have seen how this guy was riding to suspect what I did - he looked strong and it just made me think it was a strategy. Can't wait till they start to climb.